KENNEDY VICTORIAN OAKS - 2500m, Flemington R8
The Victorian Oaks is the feature race on Thursday of Melbourne Cup week, day three of the week long battle against the bookies after Derby day on Saturday and Cup day on Tuesday.
The early market has pitched two favourites against each other, a classic battle between a classy filly that will race on the speed but may not have the most endurance, vs the stronger stayer that will be trying to chase her down from the middle of the pack.
Zardozi is the favourite, and the most likely to run out a strong 2500m based on her breeding and performances to date. After a couple of moderate runs in Sydney where she didn’t have the best luck, she’s turned a corner since coming to Melbourne, exploding out of the pack to win the Edward Manifold in early October, and following it up with a fine performance in the Wakeful on Saturday, where she just failed to run down the leader.
She’s drawn well enough in six, will meet all of her rivals from the Wakeful better at the weights than she did there, and is the rightful favourite.
Amazonian Lass led that Wakeful field along, and was able to hang on. It was a good day to lead at Flemington on Derby Day, with several of them winning. She may not get all those favours again, especially with a bit more speed engaged here.
Aethelflaed was the eye-catcher out wide in the Wakeful, running into fourth from near-last, looking like she can’t wait to get to 2500m. Barrier 12 is very tough from the 2500m start at Flemington, so she’ll have to be back in the field again, and that could be the difference between winning and losing.
Tropical Squall is the second favourite, and may challenge Zardozi for market-elect come race time. She’s had a terrific campaign, winning against the older horses in benchmark grade first-up, before running third in the Tea Rose and then winning the Group 1 Flight Stakes. She was then brave in defeat under 59kg’s in the Ethereal, just getting nabbed in the shadows of the post after setting too strong a speed.
Adam Hyeronimus has been in great form, and he should have learnt from that ride. Tropical Squall draws three here, which will give him every favour to control the race. If horse and jockey can combine for steady enough fractions throughout the race, her class should be enough to take her to victory.
Basilinna was a fast-finishing third in the Ethereal, and has finally drawn a gate after jumping from wide barriers at her last two starts. She savaged the line last start, and should get a cosy run here, so she is certainly a value danger.
Selections: 1.Basilinna 2.Tropical Squall 3.Zardozi 4.Aethelflaed
* Odds Correct At Time Of Posting. Check Playup Website For Latest Odds