Recent history hampers Aristia's Oaks quest

4 min read

By Bren O'Brien

Aristia (Lonhro) is looking to defy recent history and a three-pronged Darren Weir attack to win Thursday's G1 Kennedy Oaks at Flemington.

Aristia, trained by Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra, broke her maiden in Saturday's G2 Wakeful S. and is looking to become the 36th horse to complete the feature Flemington fillies double, but the first since 2013.

The Wakeful S. has traditionally been the key guide to the Oaks, with 19 of the 26 runnings of the race up to and including 2013, providing the winner the following Thursday.

But things have changed in the past four years, with Set Square (Reset) and Pinot (Pierro) coming through the G3 Ethereal S. at Caulfield, while Jameka (Myboycharlie {Ire}) came through The Vase at Moonee Valley and outsider Lasqueti Spirit (Beneteau) via a Class 1 at Kembla Grange.

That alternative path suits Amphitrite (Sebring), who was beaten into 11th when favourite against the older mares in the G1 Myer Classic on Saturday.

She is attempting to become the first filly in 12 years, since Miss Finland (Redoute's Choice), to win the G1 Thousand Guineas - VRC Oaks double having never been beyond the 1600m in her career.

There is no such distance query over her stablemate Verry Elleegant (NZ} (Zed {NZ}), who looked every bit the stayer after winning the G3 Ethereal S. and then working home into fifth in the Wakeful S. The addition of a nose roll to help her race more tractably, plus the likelihood of a soft track both play in Verry Ellegant's favour.

Verry Ellegant winning at Caulfield

Ahead of her in the Wakeful both Aristia, Qafila (Not A Single Doubt) and Sizzleme (Sizzling). There is a pedigree query on the latter two running the 2500m, and you can expect both to be up near the speed in this race.

Conversely, Weir's third runner, Zapurler (High Chaparral {Ire}) has none of the form credentials, but all the pedigree credentials, having broken her maiden with some authority over 2100m at Echuca last start.

Her dam Zapurb (Zabeel {NZ}) ran in an Oaks, while the dam's full sister Zapurple was a South Australian Oaks winner. Her jockey Hugh Bowman has won the race twice before.

Babies get their shot

The G3 Maribyrnong Plate, the feature 2YO race of the week, kicks off Oaks Day, with some well-bred first starters expected to dominate.

Chicago Bull (Exceed and Excel) has been well-supported off a couple of very strong recent jumpouts. He is a half-brother to G2 Sires Produce S. winner Zululand (Fastnet Rock) and cost $400,000 as a yearling.

Chicago Bull as a yearling

Lankan Rupee (Redoute's Choice) won a couple of Group 1s down the Flemington straight and his half-sister Art Collection (Fastnet Rock), a Coolmore home-bred, debuts for Lindsay Park here.

He won a jumpout with some authority at this track last week and certainly looks progressive as does the other Coolmore owned filly Vinicunca (I Am Invincible), who was a $600,000 Easter buy who also jumped out well at Flemington.

Fillies charge for Roses

A big field of sprinting 3YO fillies contest the G2 World Horse Racing Roses S. down the straight, which rounds off proceedings.

In-form pair Meryl (Epaulette) and Humma Humma (Denman) take on Bleu Roche (Fastnet Rock), who has been unlucky in her two runs since her impressive debut win.

One-time boom filly Multaja (Medaglia D'Oro {USA}) also features along with impressive last start winners Propelle (Smart Missile) and Voila (Choisir) in what looms the most wide open Group race of the week.

Best of the rest

There are also two Listed races on Thursday, the Absolut S. over the 1000m for the sprinters and TCL TV S. for 3-year-olds over the 1800m.

The Listed Absolut S. has produced some quality sprinters over the past eight years including subsequent Group 1 winners such as Redzel (Snitzel), The Quarterback (Street Boss), Lankan Rupee and Temple of Boom (Piccolo {GB}).

Not sure if there's another one of that quality this year, but Super Cash (Written Tycoon) heads the market with Viridine (Poet's Voice {GB}) and Illustrious Lad (I Am Invincible) rated his chief rivals.

In the Listed TCL TV S., Weir's Junipal (Reset), the half-brother to multiple G1 winner and now Sun Stud stallion Palentino, is expected to step up to stakes class, while Alessandro (Fiorente {Ire}), who just missed a start in last Saturday's G1 Victoria Derby, looks well placed.

There is also the Listed Lander Toyota Ladies' Day Cup at Hawkesbury, where Pecans (Skilled), who won the G3 Hawkesbury Crown at this track back in April, looks a leading chance in what is a very even field.