There are just six horses engaged for the $250,000 Group 2 Eagle Farm Cup (2200m) on Queensland Oaks Day this weekend, and while five in the line-up look in place Persian Star is definitely a surprise edition to the staying feature.
The sole mare in this year’s Eagle Farm Cup, six-year-old Persian Star is a veteran of 45 starts but has crossed the line first just seven times over her career.
Saturday will be only her sixth Group race assignment and it is a tough test with the likes of Michael Moroney’s star import Glass Harmonium, last-start Doomben Cup winner Scenic Shot and John Wallace’s local hope Shoot Out all engaged.
This year Persian Star has had six runs, her best performance being a devastatingly close second to Gold In Dubai in an open handicap over 2000m at Flemington.
Last start she finished a distant sixth beaten eight lengths in the Banjo Paterson Heat 1 (2000m), again at Flemington.
Still Smerdon is sure she has earned her spot in the field and although weight-for-age and 57kg isn’t ideal, Persian Star should improve with the step up in distance.
“She just gets better with racing so although it’s probably an unsuitable race for her at weight-for-age, the extra run will help and the back-up suits,” Smerdon said.
The 2200m is still short from the mare’s preferred racing distances of 2500m and beyond, however, and as such she is the $26 roughie in the current Eagle Farm Cup odds.
Ballarat-based horseman Smerdon is hoping a good show from Persian Star on Saturday will give her a chance for the following Saturday’s $300,000 Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m).
“She’ll drop to 52kg in the Brisbane Cup so will obviously be a much better chance over 2400m next weekend,” Smerdon said.
Twelve months ago Persian Star won her first black-type in the Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (3200m) at Flemington before continuing onto Queensland where she was unplaced finishing sixth to Crossthestart in the 2010 Brisbane Cup.
“This year the Brisbane Cup has been the target all along whereas last year was at the end of her campaign and coming back from some longer races,” Smerdon explained.
“She’s been finding the line well lately but will be suited at the 2400m of the Brisbane Cup and then she’ll go on to the Queensland Cup (3200m) a month later.”
The $200,000 Group 3 Queensland Cup (2200m) runs at Eagle Farm on June 25.
2011 Eagle Farm Cup Final Field & Barrier Draw
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||6X75744131||SCENIC SHOT||Daniel Morton||Shane Scriven||2||59kg||116|
|2||30064X3966||TRIPLE HONOUR (NZ)||Chris Waller||–||5||59kg||110|
|3||33440X9555||SHOOT OUT||John Wallace||Glen Colless||4||59kg||114|
|4||X136X60X23||GLASS HARMONIUM (IRE)||Michael Moroney||Ms Lisa Cropp||1||59kg||105|
|5||2754X34229||FANJURA (IRE)||Lee Freedman||Corey Brown||6||59kg||100|
|6||5033X90926||PERSIAN STAR||Robert Smerdon||Luke Nolen||3||57kg||96|