Unbeaten filly Atlantic Jewel has produced a cracker of a trial for the VRC Oaks with a trackwork-like gallop to win the Group Two Wakeful Stakes at Flemington.
Jockey Michael Rodd’s biggest fear was hitting the front too soon as he eased the $1.26 favourite forward from second last in the 10-horse field on the way to a seven-length win in her first 2000-metre test.
Trainer Mark Kavanagh said Atlantic Jewel, who has now won all five starts, had amazed him with her constant improvement which led him to pushing on with an Oaks campaign after her last-start Group One Thousand Guineas win at Caulfield.
“You think that traditionally a three-year-old filly, having her fourth start winning Group One (Thousand Guineas) the way she did, would go home and leave something in the feed box but she improved again,” Kavanagh said.
“I just shook my head, thinking there is no sense in sending her to the paddock, that if she keeps improving like this we only have two more races to go so we will give it a try.”
Kavanagh said he had never trained a horse akin to Atlantic Jewel and is more excited than ever about what she might do in the future.
“It was sort of a bit arrogant the way she did that, I must admit,” Kavanagh said.
“She is a very, very special horse. She has a turn of foot and is so athletic.”
It seems the only hope the second-placed Rahveel ($71) and third-placegetter Dowager Queen ($9) have of winning the Oaks is if Atlantic Jewel doesn’t run.
But Rodd said that while Atlantic Jewel had a blow after the race she still had plenty in reserve.
“If I really got to work on her and made her sprint she would have really put paid to them,” Rodd said.
“What she did is quite incredible and she just had them all covered today.
“You don’t like hitting the front too soon at Flemington but she was just going that easy.
“You don’t have to ride a pretty race with a horse like that.
“She is quite a big filly and she’s got a massive stride on her and really needs to have the room.
“She’s had enough of a blow after the race today to take her through to the Oaks.”
Damien Oliver said Atlantic Jewel left him for dead on Rahveel.
“She (Rahveel) went well but we were in another race,” Oliver said.
Craig Williams said he tracked Atlantic Jewel throughout the race and declared Dowager Queen the second-best filly going towards the Oaks. ”
“If the other horse (Atlantic Jewel) doesn’t go that way or something happens to it I’m sure Dowager Queen will win the Oaks,” Williams said.