Punters are hoping Lucia Valentina will be the first filly since Heavenly Glow in 2008, to take out the Vinery Stud/Australian Oaks double when the Kris Lees filly lines up in this weekend’s $1M Group 1. She has opened up $2.60 favourite in advance of Zanbagh ($5) and Rising Romance ($6). Both horse on the second line of betting are well credentialed for an Oaks with Zanbagh being the daughter of 2004 Oaks winner Wild Iris whilst Rising Romance’s trainer Donna Logan, is back for another crack at the Oaks after Habibi, who started favourite, ran fourth to Royal Descent.
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1. ZANBAGH – B Shinn (6)
Hit the line in very good style second up in the G2 Surround Stakes (1400m) when fifth (1.6 lengths) to Thump and backed that up with a comfortable victory, as the 13/8 favourite, in the Listed Keith Nolan Classic (1600m) at Kembla Grange. Jockey Blake Shinn had her in the spot throughout in the Keith Nolan and she defeated the likes of Role Model, Interspersed and Missvonn, by a length. Drew the widest gate (16) in last fortnight’s Vinery Stakes (2000m) and was niggled at passing the 600m before circling the field and finishing fairly to run 5th (6 ½ lengths) behind Lucia Valentina – who saved considerable ground by coming home along the fence. A more favourable draw should see her within striking distance on the turn this weekend and prove hard to hold out.
2. LUCIA VALENTINA – J Bowman (2)
She came across from New Zealand after registering a G3 win and a G2 placing from her five starts, to join Kris Lees’ Newcastle Stable. Connections would have been very pleased with her first up third behind Thump in the Surround Stakes (1400m) but then didn’t have much luck in the G1 Coolmore Classic (1500m). She got a long way back in a race dominated by those up front and had to dodge tiring ones in the straight before running 12th (4.1 lengths). She got a long way back again in the Vinery Stud (2000m) but this time, as the field fanned rounding the turn, secured a lovely run closer to the fence and finished strongly to grab Solicit by a length. Relished the heavy conditions last time and her record, both her and in NZ, speaks for itself.
3. RISING ROMANCE – J McDonald (4)
A NZ filly who defeated Lucia Valentina on New Year’s Day in the G2 Royal Stakes (2000m) before running second in both the G2 Avondale Stakes (2100m) and NZ Derby (2400m) to Puccini on each occasion. She had five weeks off after the Derby run, where she finished at a good rate of knots, before crossing the Tasman and lining up in the G1 Vinery Stakes (2000m). The Ekraar filly found herself in a bit of traffic on the turn and in the straight, missed a run at a crucial stage. Her effort to finish fourth (6.4 lengths) was a good one all things considered and she’ll be much better for the run. Given her previous defeat of the current favourite and her last start effort, $6.00 seems to represent good value.
4. MISS MOSSMAN – N Rawiller (13)
Connections have paid a late entry fee for this NZ filly to line up here despite her finishing a long last in the G1 Vinery Stakes (2000m) a fortnight ago. The Vinery effort was the Mossman’s sixth start on a slow or heavy graded track where to date, she has only produced one third placing. Her New Zealand form (on good tracks) reads very well and includes a dominant victory in the G1 NZ Oaks. If successful here, she’ll give her trainer John Sargent, an Oaks treble after he also trained Kirramossa to the VRC Oaks last spring however, with the likelihood of a wet track for the weekend, given her record and last start performance, makes her hard to include.
5. SUAVITO – D Oliver (15)
The Thorn Park filly returned to racing in February of this year with a strong fifth behind Solicit in the Kewney Stakes (1400m) at Flemington before rattling home but falling a nose short of catching Marianne in the Listed Alexandra Stakes at Moonee Valley. She then travelled north for the G1 Vinery Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill and, like she has done so here, drew poorly, meaning she settled a long way off the leaders during the run. She circled the field and was near the widest running turning and was only fair in the run home on the heavy track, finishing seventh (7 ¼ lengths). She’ll get back again today and what should be another rain-affected track, hard to see her making up the ground required.
6. FOREVER LOVED – T Berry (7)
Tenacious front-running type from Gai Waterhouse’s yard who camped on a hot speed two starts back in the G3 Aspiration Quality (1600m) before, not surprisingly, weakening to run tenth (7.4 lengths) behind stable-mate Diamond Drille. She then handled the step up in both class and distance very well when hanging on for third (6 lengths) behind Lucia Valentina and Solicit in the G1 Vinery Stakes (2000m). She’s an honest competitor who will take up a forward position but at this level, hard to see her holding off some of the challengers that will come at her late.
7. MISS SELBY – G Boss (9)
Another from the Shaky Islands with a good record, she ran second to Miss Mossman at her most recent start in the G1 NZ Oaks. The O’Reilly filly had her chance in the Oaks but was no match later for the winner. That was five weeks ago now and she has not yet raced on a surface rated worse than Dead. Opened up at $17.00 Tuesday evening and already out to $19.00.
8. CASINO DANCER – C Schofield (10)
She ran home well behind Zanbagh in the Listed Keith Nolan Classic (1600m) three starts ago before taking on the absolute best in the G1 Vinery Stakes (2000m). She was ridden a lot closer to the speed then she normally is in the Vinery and weakened noticeably from the home turn, running twelfth (11.8 lengths). She appreciated the drop in class and being ridden more quietly in last week’s G3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) and finished two lengths behind the in-form Gypsy Diamond. Jumps back up to 2400m and considerably again in class.
9. INTERSPERSED – K McEvoy (3)
Finished strongly to win the Listed Canberra Guineas (1600m) before again hitting the line well from near last on the turn in the Keith Nolan Classic (1600m), when fourth (1 ¼ lengths) to Zanbagh. The Sam Kavanagh trained filly then lined up in the G1 Vinery Stakes (2000m) and as expected, got back to near last in the run. She didn’t have a great deal of room on the turn and never really get the opportunity to wind up. She finished eighth (8.4 lengths) behind Lucia Valencia. That was her first look at a heavy track and her first start behind a mile. She’ll be better for having the experience of both and at $17.00, is one of the multiples.
10. ROLE MODEL – B Avdulla (14)
This former New Zealand filly, now with Gai Waterhouse, was backed from 50/1 into 20/1 when making her Australian debut in the Keith Nolan Classic (1600m) and gave her supporters and connections a big sight. The daughter of Bel Danoro took up a handy position from a wide gate and kept finding in the run home, running second to Zanbagh by a length. A fortnight later, she stepped out in last week’s G3 Adrian Knox Stakes as an 8/1 chance but failed to handle the heavy conditions and finished eighth (7.7 lengths) behind Arabian Gold. Drawn wide here and could only entertain her chances should the track get to a dead grading.
11. AMANPOUR – J Cassidy (1)
Another runner for Waterhouse, this filly broke her maiden status four starts back, at her seventh career start, and backed that up with an all-the-way win in a BM 69 (1900m) at Canterbury. She was then stepped up in grade but after jumping awkwardly, found herself at the tail of the field in the G3 Keith Nolan (1600m) and did a good job in the end to finish in ninth place, only 2.4 lengths from the winner, Zanbagh. Jumping much cleaner in last week’s Adrian Knox (2000m), she took up the running but didn’t appear comfortable on the wet track, only battling away in the straight to hold onto fifth spot (6.6 lengths) behind Arabian Gold. Will jump and lead or in the least, be handy but needed to show a lot more last week to be included among the hopes here.
12. MISSVONN – C Newitt (11)
After winning a Wyong Class 1 (1350m), she stepped out at her next start in the G3 Keith Nolan (1600m) as a 80/1 chance but produced a run much better than her priced would have suggested, finishing well from near the tail of the field to run fifth (1.5 lengths) behind Zanbagh. After drawing wide, getting back, and being unable to make an impression in the run home when contesting the G1 Vinery Stakes, a return to a more suitable grade of the G3 Adrian Knox Stakes last week, saw a much improved effort. She tracked into the race nicely but was unable to match it late with winner Arabian Gold, finishing second (1 ¼ lengths). Honest effort last week but not one that would see her winning here.
13. CAST IN STONE – C Williams (12)
Her only win from eight starts has been in a Wyong Maiden four starts back. Since then, the daughter of Redoute’s Choice who is trained by Bart and James Cummings, has started three times with the latest being in last week’s Adrian Knox Stakes. She started 30/1 and only held her position in the run home, finishing seventh (5.1 lengths) to Arabian Gold. Faces a big step up in distance and in class here and has a big challenge ahead of her.
14. CUBAN STAR – (8)
She ran second last start in a Class 2 at Gosford over 2600m. Not here.
15. BLUE EYES –
Still a maiden who last week in the Adrian Knox Stakes settled at the tail of the field and made little impact, finishing tenth and over fifteen lengths from the winner. Top ten finish would be her best option again.
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Going to go around the favourite and put Zanbagh and Rising Romance on top. Zanbagh has been set for this race and did as well as she could’ve last start from the outside gate. She went round the field whilst Lucia Valentina saved a stack of ground closer to the fence. Zanbagh has drawn much better here and should be able to settle mid-field in the running line and finish well. Compared to the favourite, Rising Romance is a good price given she has a victory over her in the past and didn’t have things as sweetly as Lucia Valentina did last start. She’ll be fitter again and only the state of the track is a concern but at her current price, worth taking the chance she’ll handle it well enough. Lucia Valentina and Interspersed for the placings.
- RISING ROMANCE
- LUCIA VALENTINA