One of the top 2011 Melbourne Cup fancies, Scarlett Lady, resumes in New Zealand’s Challenge Stakes at Hastings this Saturday and despite her awkward barrier 12 draw trainer Graeme Rogerson in convinced she has the class to win first-up.
The new-season return of Scarlett Lady is one of the most anticipated of any spring-bound galloper after the now four-year-old daughter of Savabeel proved her Melbourne Cup potential by winning the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) in Brisbane last start on June 4.
Prior to that she enjoyed five other race wins on the trot including the Group 3 The Doomben Roses (2020m) in her Australian race debut and the Group 2 Travis Stakes (2000m) at home in New Zealand.
Sitting as the $12 third-favourite in the futures betting odds at Luxbet for the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday November 1, Scarlett Lady will get her chance to overtake Lights Of Heaven ($9) and Shamrocker ($10) as the Melbourne Cup betting favourite by taking out the NZ$200,000 Group 1 Maki Challenge Stakes (1400m) on Saturday.
In an early blow for the talented runner, Scarlett Lady came up with a wide gate 12 draw for the race formerly known as the Mudgway Stakes.
Still, Rogerson remains unfazed and believes her class will see her through.
“She’ll run good, she always does,” he said on Thursday after the Challenge Stakes barriers were released.
“She will be getting home hard at the end.
“She’ll be hitting the line hard.
“She’ll be back (because of the barrier) but I don’t care.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she wins, she’s certainly got a lot of ability.”
Rogerson reported that since coming back into work Scarlett Lady had improved in strength and fitness and she showed this when working impressively this week.
“She’s a lot stronger this time up,” he said.
“She only had two and a half weeks off, I wouldn’t be using that as an excuse.
“She worked sensationally on Tuesday morning and worked well again this morning.
“She worked 1200 metres (on Tuesday) with another one of our horses and she really worked well.
“She run time and worked on past the line and everything.
“I couldn’t be more happier with her.
“She’s pretty fit, she looks good.”
As well as producing good results on the turf, Rogerson said Scarlett Lady was a dream to train and displayed none of the quirky traits that sometimes make stars tricky to get right behind the scenes.
“She’s very quiet, she’s got no traits,” he said.
“You can do anything with her, you can do anything on her, she’s a very placid horse.
“She just does everything that you ask of her.”
The Hastings track is shaping up to be a Dead rating come Saturday, which Rogerson believes will be ideal for Scarlett Lady who has had three starts on Dead ground for two wins, including the Queensland Oaks, and a second place finish.
“Should be perfect, should be round about a Dead 5 I think,” Rogerson said.
Scarlett Lady must be at her best on Saturday for the Challenge Stakes, which will be contested by no less than six other elite level winners.
The most notable dangers in the field are Rosehill Guineas winner Jimmy Choux due to jump from barrier 10, reigning Victoria Derby champion Lion Tamer who came up trumps with the inside alley and Emirates Stakes hero Wall Street.
The quality of competition, however, doesn’t scare Rogerson who boldly declared that Scarlett Lady was a topliner.
“Could be the best horse I’ve ever trained and I’ve had some good horses,” he said.
Just how good she is will be uncovered this spring with Scarlett Lady set to travel down under and tackle races including the $350,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 17 and the $500,000 Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 2 before the iconic Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.
“Hoping she’ll run on the 17th at Caulfield, 1800 metres (the Underwood Stakes) and then she runs on the 2nd of October over the mile and a quarter (the Turnbull Stakes) and then she runs in the Caulfield Cup (October 15),” Rogerson said.
“Then we’ll decide whether she needs to run before the Melbourne Cup, possibly in the Mackinnon, but at this stage it will be the Caulfield Cup straight into the Melbourne Cup.”
Scarlett Lady is paying $11 to win the Caulfield Cup through Luxbet, and despite Rogerson not confirming the 2011 Cox Plate as one of the spring aims, she is installed as a $21 in those markets.
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