Melbourne Cup 2011 Challenge Starts for Scarlett Lady

Second-favourite to win the 2011 Melbourne Cup this spring, Graeme Rogerson’s well-performing Kiwi mare Scarlett Lady is set to resume racing for the season at home this Saturday, the Queensland Oaks winner taking on a tough field of rivals in the Group 1 Makfi Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Hawke’s Bay.

Jimmy Choux

Jimmy Choux (pictured) is one of the rivals Scarlett Lady will face in Saturday's Challenge Stakes

Savabeel four-year-old Scarlett Lady secured early support among the punters and public to take out the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday November 1 after her blistering success last season both at home in New Zealand and down under during her Australian raid.

Ridden by ace Kiwi apprentice James McDonald, Scarlett Lady posted four successive wins including the Group 2 Travis Stakes (2000m) in New Zealand before connections made the decision to send her across the Tasman for the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.

Scarlett Lady extended her winning streak to six straight while racing in Oz, the star filly taking out the Doomben The Roses – Queensland Oaks double, the same double won by fellow Kiwi sensation Ethereal back in 2001.

Like Ethereal, who returned to Australia to win the iconic Caulfield and Melbourne Cups a decade ago, Scarlett Lady is set for another Aussie raid this spring targeting glory in the Melbourne Carnival’s premier staying features.

Firstly, however, she will kick off the season in the Challenge Stakes and Rogerson is keeping himself grounded about Scarlett Lady’s first-up chances against the likes of 2011 Cox Plate-bound Jimmy Choux and last year’s Victoria Derby winner Lion Tamer in the NZ Spring Racing Triple Crown opener.

While Aussie punters have backed Scarlett Lady into the $13 equal second-favourite along with Shamrocker behind Lights Of Heaven ($11) in the current Melbourne Cup 2011 odds, Rogerson knows Saturday’s Challenge Stakes is a hard assignment.

“It is 1400 metres and if she can win at that distance I would be really happy because she’s a stayer,” Rogerson said.

“We’re looking towards the two Cups (Caulfield and Melbourne).”

Scarlett Lady did win first-up over 1400 metres back in March, however the quality of her opposition for that race was far from the same she races against this time round.

McDonald, 19, again has the ride aboard Scarlett Lady, the hoop confident she is the best she can be for her early season task.

“She’s going well,” he said.

“It’s only 1400 metres on Saturday so she’ll get back and be running home hopefully.

“She looks good, she has put on a bit of weight and should run well fresh.”

After the Challenge Stakes, plans are for Scarlett Lady to have her first run for the season in Australia in the $350,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 19.

As for the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 15, premier online bookmaker Luxbet has Scarlett Lady rated the $11 second-elect again behind Lights Of Heaven ($7.50).

Scarlett Lady is also in calculations for Moonee Valley’s famous weight-for-age feature, the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) on October 22.

Luxbet are currently paying the best Cox Plate odds on Scarlett Lady who is at a very generous price of $21.

To back Scarlett Lady at the best ante-post price for any of the Melbourne Spring Carnival showdowns, head to Luxbet and open an account with the bookie that offers its customers more including a $400 welcome bet when depositing and quoting the codeword BONUSBET.