The two favourites for the VRC Oaks have already had their lead-up runs, but trainer Clarry Conners is sticking to a tried and true path via the Wakeful Stakes for Dawnie Perfect.
Conners has won the Oaks three times with Research (1988), Arborea (1993) and Dear Demi (2012) and all three fillies ran in the Wakeful.
Oaks favourite Sacred Eye won the Caulfield Classic last Saturday week while second elect Jameka won the Vase at Moonee Valley with both fillies beating the colts and geldings.
But Conners believes he has the timing right with Dawnie Perfect who runs in Saturday’s 2000m Group Two race ahead of the Oaks next Thursday.
“I’ve had three Oaks winners and they’ve all run in the Wakeful and I’m not going to change the formula,” Conners said.
Conners trains Dawnie Perfect for John Singleton who raced Dear Demi.
Singleton bred his latest Oaks contender from his mare, 2003 Queensland Oaks winner Zagalia who was also trained by Conners.
Dawnie Perfect is by Big Brown, the 2008 Kentucky Derby winner who stood four seasons at Vinery Stud.
While the Oaks is at the forefront of most trainers with fillies in the Wakeful, the Leon Macdonald and Andrew Gluyas pair of Beluga Blue and C’est Beau La Vie are there to test the waters with a view to the future.
“They are both nice fillies but they won’t be going to the Oaks,” Macdonald said.
“I think the 2500 metres in the spring is too hard on them.
“They can run over the longer trip in the autumn when they are a little bit more mature.
“There’s the Australasian Oaks at home in Adelaide or we can go to Sydney.
“For now I’d just like to run them in the Group Two.”
Markets favour Beluga Blue over her stablemate and Macdonald agrees.
“C’est Beau La Vie has never finished in front of Beluga Blue but she was unlucky behind her last start when fourth in a Listed race at home.”
While Conners believes Dawnie Perfect is spot-on for the Wakeful, he also wants to see Princess Aria run well.
That filly is trained by Conners’ trainer son Marc.
“She hasn’t been that far away from Dawnie Perfect in a couple of races so I hope they come down the straight head and head – and mine wins,” he said.
“But if she doesn’t then I hope Marc’s horse does.”