The string of autumn luck continued for the Danny O’Brien-trained filly Shamrocker yesterday after she drew ideally for the $550,000 Group 1 AJC Australian Oaks (2400m).
Saturday will see the remarkable 100th running of the three-year-old fillies’ classic at Randwick and after coming up trumps with barrier four of 17, Shamrocker firmed dramatically in the AJC Oaks odds at bookmakers around the country.
Last start winner of the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m), O’Reilly filly Shamrocker also enjoyed an surprise victory in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) last month becoming the first filly his history to take out the unique double.
She is now well found in the Australian Oaks markets too.
Sportingbet Australia reported on Wednesday taking a bet of $50,000 at $2.90 on Shamrocker to win the Oaks moments after markets were released.
“Shamrocker shortened up dramatically after winning the Derby but punters think she is still good odds and have stepped in,” Sportingbet Australia CEO Michael Sullivan said.
Although Shamrocker looks fit and in-form, history shows the favourites more often than not get rolled in the Oaks.
Only five favourites in the past 20 years have been successful with Triscay (1991), Danendri (1997), Grand Archway (1999), Wild Iris (2004) and most recently the Lee Freedman-trained Serenade Rose in 2006.
Despite the ideal alley and the overwhelming support from the punters, O’Brien remains apprehensive.
“If anything, I’d say I was more confident of winning the Derby,” O’Brien said.
“The Oaks looks deeper to me.”
Champion jockey Glen Boss, aboard for both the Australian Guineas and Derby victories, retains the ride on Shamrocker for Saturday as he seeks his fourth AJC Oaks win.
Boss has ridden three Australian Oaks winners to victory over the years with Danendri (1997), Republic Lass (2002) and Serenade Rose (2006).
Second favourite to win the Australian Oaks this year and become the 16th filly to take out the VRC / AJC Oaks double is the Michael Moroney-trained Brazilian Pulse.
Well fancied in the ante-post markets, many punters were keen to back Brazilian Pulse early on meaning an upset win for her is the worst possible outcome for many bookmakers.
“We have a huge liability on Brazilian Pulse after taking a string of big bets including one of $40,000 at $4.80 in early betting,” Sullivan said.
“She is the clear second pick now at $4.00 but we haven’t seen much interest in her this week.”
The daughter of British sire Captain Rio, Brazilian Pulse comes off a last start third to Mirjulisa Lass in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on April 2 and has drawn the rails with barrier one for the Oaks.
“Brazilian Pulse will be hard to beat,” Shamrocker’s trainer O’Brien said.
Upset Vinery Stud winner Mirjulisa Lass, who claimed a dominant 2 ½ length victory as a $51 roughie on Golden Slipper Day, did not fare as well in the AJC Oaks barrier draw, the Gregory Hickman-trained Danasinga filly coming up with gate 17 of 17.
Jockey Corey Brown has his concerns about riding Mirjulisa Lass from the outside alley.
“That’s the last thing I wanted with her,” Brown said.
“She’s a get-back horse but I would have loved to have drawn inside of 12, but we’ve come up with worst marble of all.
“So I’m going to have to do something special.”
Brown has ridden Mirjulisa Lass for her three most recent runs including the breakthrough Group 1 win in the Vinery Stud Stakes, but for that the filly had the perfect barrier three start.
There is still some hope for Mirjulisa Lass looking back at her form according to her trainer Gregory Hickman.
“The only consolation is if you look at the way she won at Newcastle over 1850m (last November), she gave them 20 lengths start that day.
“But it’s obviously a different kettle of fish in the Oaks.
“I’ll have to really sit down and look at it but we’re pretty lucky that we have got an A-grade jockey on and the horse is very well.”
Brown already has one AJC Oaks win to his credit having ridden 2005 winner Dizelle to victory.
“You never know either, it just might pan out for the better but the sad thing about it is that we’ve drawn average and the chances have drawn well,” Hickman continued.
“But if they are going to be good horses they are going to have to be able to win from everywhere.”