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Shamrocker and Scarlett Lady head a bunch of well-credentialled mares as they try to overcome a 26-year hoodoo against the fairer sex in Saturday’s Underwood Stakes at Caulfield.

Not since Tristarc, in 1985, has a mare been successful in the Group One weight-for-age feature.

Since then there have been plenty finish runner-up including Mannerism (1993), Jezabeel (1998), Magical Miss (2002), She’s Archie (2004), Miss Finland (2007) and Dariana (2010).

But this year the mares have a strong hand with Shamrocker, Brazilian Pulse, Scarlett Lady, Absolutely and Lights Of Heaven – all Group One winners – along with Exceptionally and Southern Speed among the 23 nominations.

The Danny O’Brien-trained Shamrocker, the current Melbourne Cup favourite at $12 with TAB Sportsbet, will strip fitter for her first-up eighth to King’s Rose in the Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield and will be better suited over the 1800m trip.

Australian Guineas and Australian Derby winner Shamrocker has a good second-up record having won at two of her three tries including her Guineas success.

The Graeme and Debbie Rogerson-trained Scarlett Lady made it six straight victories with her impressive win in the Queensland Oaks before returning from a spell with a seventh behind King Mufhasa in the Makfi Challenge (1400m) at Hastings on August 27.

Scarlett Lady is currently second pick in the betting at $11 for the Caulfield Cup behind the $8 favourite December Draw who tries to force his way in to that race by winning Saturday’s Naturalism Stakes (2000m).

The Kiwi four-year-old is third pick in Melbourne Cup betting at $14 behind Shamrocker and December Draw ($13).

Before Tristarc, mares successful in the Underwood were Valley Of Georgia (1979), Denise’s Joy (1977), How Now (1976) and Lowland (1968).

Amongst the males engaged in the Underwood are Heart Of Dreams, who won the race in 2009, Victoria Derby winner Lion Tamer, Melbourne Cup runner-up Maluckyday, Makybe Diva Stakes runner-up Glass Harmonium, Midas Touch, Playing God and At First Sight.

The Bart Cummings stable, which won the race last year when champion So You Think beat stablemate Dariana, will saddle up Precedence who’ll be ridden by last year’s winning rider Steven Arnold.

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