A strong gallop lead-up by Aliferous has boosted jockey Brenton Avdulla’s chance to make a Group One-winning return to Australia at Doomben.
Avdulla will ride Aliferous for trainer Kris Lees in Saturday’s $500,000 Queensland Oaks (2200m).
Lees has a strong Oaks hand with two in the field and two emergencies.
Avdulla has not ridden in Australia since April 22 after taking up a short-term riding contract in Japan.
He has been a regular rider for Aliferous’ owners Australian Bloodstock and he knows the filly well after winning the Group Two Adrian Knox Stakes on her at Randwick during the Sydney autumn carnival.
Avdulla’s most famous win was whe he led all the way on $101 shot Lasqueti Spirit in the 2016 VRC Oaks.
Aliferous will be nothing like those odds and has been confidently backed to give Lees his second Queensland Oaks after Vitesse Dane in 2004.
Lees’ Queensland representative Mel Eggleston oversaw Aliferous’ work on Tuesday and was impressed.
“She hasn’t gone backwards since her unlucky second in The Roses two weeks ago,” Eggleston said.
Lees has already won more than 200 races this season and will be in Brisbane on Saturday for the Oaks in which Aliferous has drawn barrier 13.
“It’s a bit of an awkward gate for her so she just needs a bit of luck,” Lees said.
“Her lead-up run was terrific and she’s going there in good order.”
Lees has kept Aliferous in top order since the Sydney autumn carnival.
“She had a freshen-up after it. You never know how they’re going to bounce back and whether they can sustain that, but she seems really well,” he said.
Lees also has Angel of Heaven, who is owned by Brisbane’s Wanless family, in the Oaks after her fast-finishing second in the Grand Prix last week.
“She’s had a bit of racing, that will be my only query. She will probably have a spell after her next run,” Lees said.
“But she ran really well on Saturday, I think she’ll handle the back-up and most importantly for her she’s got that good draw.”
Angel Of Heaven has also been nominated for the Queensland Derby.
“She won’t run in both so we’ll see where she sits in the order of entry when the Derby acceptances come out,” Lees said.
Lees has Itz Lily and Grand Bouquet as reserves for Oaks.
“They’ll run if they get starts. We’ll see what happens. They’re in form, Grand Bouquet won (last start), albeit in soft company and Itz Lily was a good fourth in the lead-up so you couldn’t discount either.”
He also has Big Duke and Sixties Groove in the Group Two O’Shea Stakes (2200m) on Saturday.
“They’ve come through their Doomben Cup runs well and they’ll appreciate the extra ground,” Lees said.