Heading to Oaks Day at Flemington, but don’t know which horse to back? Never fear … we’ve got the ultimate guide to picking a winner right here.
We got off to a great start this week by tipping Fiorente to win the Melbourne Cup, and we think we can do it again on Oaks Day. Here’s our preview … and our Oaks Day tips.
GROUP 1 CROWN OAKS
1. MAY’S DREAM 55.5kg
3yo chestnut filly
Breeding: New Approach – She’s Archie (Archway)
Trainer: Darren Weir (Wangoom)
Jockey: Nick Hall
Record: 6 starts 2-2-2
Betting: $5 (TAB fixed odds)
Why she can win: By a former world champion thoroughbred out of a mare who finished second in the 2003 Melbourne Cup behind the great Makybe Diva, May’s Dream is bred to be an Oaks winner. In six starts, she’s never missed a place, and she gave champion filly Guelph a real scare in last month’s Thousand Guineas. Was Oaks favourite until she was overpowered by Kirramosa in the Wakeful last Saturday.
Why she can’t win: Has she simply found one better in Kirramosa? It certainly panned out that way in the Wakeful, and you’d think she’d need to find three or four lengths in just five days if she’s going to turn the tables.
The verdict: Sits just worse than midfield and will look the winner at some point in the straight. Each way all day … she’ll give you a great run for your money.
2. ARABIAN GOLD 55.5kg
3yo grey filly
Breeding: Dubawi – Coablo (Vettori)
Trainer: David Vandyke (Warwick Farm)
Jockey: Hugh Bowman
Record: 10 starts 5-2-0
Betting: $13 (TAB fixed odds)
Why she can win: A super consistent filly who’ll race handy and make her own luck from barrier one. Has the services of Sydney’s top jockey, Hugh Bowman, who’s already tasted Group 1 success this Spring carnival with victory aboard Polanski in Saturday’s Victoria Derby.
Why she can’t win: She has to be some doubt at the 2500m, given she failed to produce her customary finishing burst at the end of 2000m in the Wakeful.
The verdict: Good fillies can feature in an Oaks, even if they’re not natural stayers. Definite inclusion in trifectas and first fours, but may struggle to win.
3. KIRRAMOSA 55.5kg
3yo bay filly
Breeding: Alamosa – Freyja (Danske)
Trainer: John Sargent (Randwick)
Jockey: Nash Rawiller
Record: 7 starts 3-1-0
Betting: $3.20 (TAB fixed odds)
Why she can win: Put simply, her performance in the Wakeful Stakes (2000m) on Saturday was phenomenal. She chugged along at the back of the field before unleashing a brilliant turn of foot at the top of the straight, putting away her rivals in a couple of bounds. She meets most of those same fillies over an extra 500m, which will only be an advantage.
Why she can’t win: Every rival jockey is going to do their level best to make it difficult for Nash Rawiller to get close to the fence from barrier 10. In a small field, Kirramosa could find herself caught three wide in a race in which there’s not much pace.
The verdict: Deserved favourite, but wary of the the lack of pace in the race and the wide alley. If she gets average luck, she’ll be terribly hard to hold out.
4. GYPSY DIAMOND 55.5kg
3yo bay filly
Breeding: Not a Single Doubt – Gypsy Tucker (Zabeel)
Trainer: John O’Shea (Randwick)
Jockey: James McDonald
Record: 8 starts 2-1-1
Betting: $8.50 (TAB fixed odds)
Why she can win: Underrated filly who’s by a former star sprinter in Not a Single Doubt … but she obviously throws to the dam’s side, her mother being by the great staying influence, Zabeel. Good Oaks trial in the Wakeful on Saturday, when she came from well back and kept grinding to the line for a two-length fifth. Before that, she beat the smart Gregers over a mile in a Group 2 race at Moonee Valley … that’s good form.
Why she can’t win: Oaks winners traditionally have a good turn of foot, and that’s something that Gypsy Diamond hasn’t really shown in her eight-start career.
The verdict: Can’t see the 2500m being a problem, but a couple of her rivals look stronger. Place best for mine.
5. SOLICIT 55.5kg
3yo bay/brown filly
Breeding: Street Cry – Princesa (Danehill)
Trainer: Matthew Ellerton and Simon Zahra (Flemington)
Jockey: Glen Boss
Record: 6 starts 2-1-2
Betting: $9 (TAB fixed odds)
Why she can win: Promising filly who’s earned a prizemoney cheque in each of her five starts this campaign. Tuned up for the Oaks with a strong on-pace effort in the Wakeful, in which she finished less than two lengths behind Kirramosa. The distance is no problem and she has the services of one of the country’s best big race jockeys in Glen Boss.
Why she can’t win: Solicit is by Street Cry, whose progeny tend to produce their best when the sting is out of the ground. By the time the Oaks is run, the track will be like bitumen.
The verdict: I think she could develop into a Group 1 filly, but I’ve got two or three ahead of her at this stage of her career.
6. QUAYSIDE 55.5kg
3yo bay/brown filly
Breeding: Street Cry – Quays (Royal Academy)
Trainer: David Payne (Rosehill)
Jockey: Brenton Avdulla
Record: 6 starts 1-2-1
Betting: $17 (TAB fixed odds)
Why she can win: Booked her float trip to Melbourne with a dominant victory in a 3yo fillies race over 1900m at Rosehill two Saturdays ago. Her mother, Quays, won the Wakeful Stakes in 2000 before running fifth in the Oaks (to Lovelorn). Looks a natural stayer who’ll continue to improve with time.
Why she can’t win: Hasn’t proven herself against this class of filly. Last time she raced against Arabian Gold, she was a six-length third over 1600m in a race in which she had a 4kg pull in the weights. This is her ultimate test.
The verdict: There’s something about this filly. She was a class above her rivals over 1900m last start, and if you take that race at face value, she has to be considered a winning hope. Don’t ignore her.
6. EVERY FAITH 55.5kg
3yo bay filly
Breeding: Not a Single Doubt – Zephyria (Zabeel)
Trainer: Robert Smerdon (Caulfield)
Jockey: Mark Zahra
Record: 8 starts 1-1-1
Betting: $51 (TAB fixed odds)
Why she can win: Bred on the same cross as Oaks rival Gypsy Diamond, Every Faith is trained by one of the best in the business in Robert Smerdon. Not far off Arabian Gold in the Ethereal (2000m) at Caulfield before running home from well back for a 3.6-length 8th in the Wakefull (2000m) last Saturday.
Why she can’t win: Others from the Wakeful, like Kirramosa, May’s Dream and Solicit, look to have her measure.
The verdict: She’ll be a better filly in the Autumn, but all the same she has a rough place chance.
8. ZANBAGH 55.5kg
3yo bay filly
Breeding: Bernardini – Wild Iris (Spectrum)
Trainer: Guy Walter (Warwick Farm)
Jockey: Blake Shinn
Record: 6 starts 2-0-1
Betting: $4.60 (TAB fixed odds)
Why she can win: There’s a touch of destiny about this filly. Her mother, Wild Iris, was an AJC Oaks winner, and Zanbagh is prepared by Wild Iris’ former trainer, Guy Walter. Comes into the VRC Oaks off an effortless five-length romp over older mares in a restricted 64-rating contest over 2000m at Ballarat. That win had “serious filly” stamped all over it.
Why she can’t win: The Oaks represents a huge step up in class. It’s fine beating average older mares, but Zanbagh hasn’t yet been tested against the best of her own age.
The verdict: Think the $4.60 fixed odds currently on offer with the TAB is too short for a filly who’s only won two average races on rain-affected ground. Happy to risk her.
9. MELALEUCA 55.5kg
3yo bay filly
Breeding: Stratum – Ettu Blue (Prince Echo)
Trainer: Terry and Karina O’Sullivan (Stawell)
Jockey: Brett Prebble
Record: 6 starts 1-0-0
Betting: $21 (TAB fixed odds)
Why she can win: Ran the fastest last 200m of the race when third to Arabian Gold in the Ethereal (2000m) at Caulfield. It was a forgive run in the Wakeful, in which she battled on for a five-length 10th to Kirramosa after racing wide throughout.
Why she can’t win: Only victory in her career to date has come in a lowly restricted 64-rating race for three-year-old fillies … and that was on a heavy track. On a rock-hard track against the best of her age? Surely not.
The verdict: Best performances have come on rain-affected going. She won’t get that in the Oaks. No.
10. TEAR GAS 55.5kg
3yo bay filly
Breeding: High Chaparral – Irlanda (O’Reilly)
Trainer: Danny O’Brien (Flemington)
Jockey: Craig Williams
Record: 4 starts 1-0-0
Betting: $41 (TAB fixed odds)
Why she can win: Looked above average when breaking her maiden status at Kyneton over 1850m two starts back. Craig Williams jumps on board, and he’s a jockey who knows what it takes to win big Group 1s over the Spring Carnival.
Why she can’t win: Had every chance in the Wakeful, but went backwards in the final 200m. The 2500m looks too far.
The verdict: The only way Tear Gas will be winning the Oaks is if her rivals are affected by it. Good luck to the owners, but their best chance of a collect is the $25,000 fifth place prize.
Daniel Sankey’s tips
This doesn’t look to be a race with many genuine winning hopes. I’m tipping that with a perfect run from barrier five, May’s Dream can turn the tables on Kirramosa, who beat her home in the Wakeful. On a firm track, I think Quayside is the testing material — and she’s also the best at odds — while Kirramosa and Solicit will battle it out for third.
1. MAY’S DREAM
Outside the Oaks
• Trainer Robert Smerdon had 5. Members Joy (race 5, 3pm) entered for a race on Melbourne Cup day, but he decided to scratch her to reserve her for the $100,000 Subzero Challenge on Oaks Day. Her first two runs back from a spell were simply phenomenal, recording brilliant late sectionals in both an unsuitable 1000m dash at Moonee Valley and the listed Alinghi Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield. She’s drawn wide again at Flemington, but she’s a go-back mare anyway … and that looks perfect in a race in which there’s a stack of pace. She looks a moral each-way bet.
• 1. Metastasio (race 3, 1.40pm) gets her chance to notch up a second black type victory in the Heritage Stakes (1200m). Had no luck when forced to go back from a wide gate in the Group 3 Champagne Stakes at Moonee Valley last start. The straight track suits and at $6, she looks terrific value. Back her to win.