Undefeated in two starts at Flemington, Oceanex will race for her biggest prize when she lines up in The Andrew Ramsden.
Oceanex has previously won at Group Two level and while Saturday’s race over 2800m at Flemington carries Listed status, the bonus for the winner is a ballot exemption into the Melbourne Cup.
Mick Price, who trains Oceanex in partnership with Mick Kent Jr at Caulfield, is unsure how the mare will measure up against Adelaide Cup winner King Of Leogrance and Warrnambool Cup winner Too Close The Sun.
But from barrier one he expects Oceanex will get every opportunity under Mark Zahra.
Oceanex won the Listed Port Adelaide Cup (2500m) at Morphettville on May 2 after an unsuccessful three-run campaign in Sydney.
“I’m assuming Too Close The Sun, Runaway, once they get rolling, that she’ll be fourth or fifth in the running I guess and she doesn’t need to do anything brave,” Price said.
“It’s a tough race for us to win, but she’s there, the timing of her preparation allows her to run in the race.
“It’s a step up in distance again, another 300 metres, but Zahra will be there to put her to sleep and we’ll see if she’s got that real staying gene to be effective over 2800 metres.
“I’m sure she will be brave and it would be her biggest win ever if she can pull this off.”
With a berth in the 2020 Melbourne Cup up for grabs, Price expects King Of Leogrance, currently the $2.50 favourite, to be well-primed for Saturday’s race.
Oceanex sits on the third line of betting at $5.50 with Price conceding Too Close The Sun ($4.60) and Dark Alley ($6.50), an emerging stayer, look strong opposition.
Price is worried the form from Oceanex’s latest win over Sopressa in Adelaide may be below that of those other stayers.
“We’re going in with the second rung of form to my mind, but we’re there to run well,” Price said.
“She’s sound, clean-winded and if she can run a place that would be great, if she can win, that would be a big bonus and the owners get the dream of having a Melbourne Cup runner.”