Fontein Ruby could back up in next week’s Group One Thousand Guineas after a fighting win at Flemington on Saturday.
Ridden by Mark Zahra, Fontein Ruby ($6) scored by a head in the Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m) from the heavily backed $2.80 favourite Maastricht with Crafty ($11) rattling home for third, a short-head away third.
Trainer Robert Smerdon said the winner and the third-placed galloper were both bound for the VRC Oaks (2500m) at Flemington on November 6 but would take different paths to the race.
Smerdon, who won the 2011 Manifold Stakes with Oaks winner Mosheen, said he would see how Fontein Ruby pulled up following Saturday’s race but is confident the filly will back up into next Saturday’s Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield.
“I think it’s a very even year of fillies,” Smerdon said.
“When they’re fit and well you’ve got to take the initiative while they’re there.
“She’s in good order, she’s got a good constituion and to me she’s got the capacity to run today and then run again next Saturday.”
Smerdon said it was Zahra who said he wanted to be positive aboard Fontein Ruby.
“I don’t think he neccesarily wanted to lead but he showed the initiative and took the front and that’s probably won her the race,” he said.
Following the Thousand Guineas, Smerdon said Fontein Ruby was likely to follow the traditional path through to the Oaks by running in the Group Two Wakeful Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 1.
Zahra said he planned to be positive on Fontein Ruby and rolled to the front after being trapped wide early.
“The option was either be wide or lead them,” Zahra said. “She relaxed well in front, gave a kick and fought them off.”