There is more than just a Flemington classic victory on offer to the 2011 Crown Oaks winner this afternoon, the filly that salutes in today’s $1 million showdown to also qualify for next year’s Melbourne Cup.
One of the balloting conditions for the time-honoured $6 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m), held annually as Flemington Race 7 on the first Tuesday of November and won this year by the French-trained raider Dunaden, is that a horse may win a Group 1 flat race run over 2300 metres of further to qualify.
The VRC Crown Oaks is one such race being a Group 1 feature run over 2500 metres.
In fact, the top three horses in the Crown Oaks 2011 finishing order will all pass the first ballot clause for the 2012 Melbourne Cup.
Current favourite in the Crown Oaks odds at Luxbet for this afternoon’s showdown, which is scheduled to run as Flemington Race 6 at 3:40pm (AEDT), is the Graeme Rogerson-trained Dowager Queen.
Drawn in gate eight and coming off a number of gallant placings this spring including her last-start third in the Wakeful Stakes, Dowager Queen is bred to stay being a daughter of ace Aussie sire Savabeel who Rogerson prepared for their 2004 Cox Plate win and Victoria Derby second.
She is also a stablemate of one-time fancy for this year’s Melbourne Cup Scarlett Lady, also a daughter of Savabeel, the Queensland Oaks winner forced out for the spring having to undergo leg surgery following her eighth in the Underwood Stakes in mid-September.
Savabeel is fast emerging as a sire to Australia’s best classic winners having also produced this year’s Victoria Derby winner Sangster.
“The Group Ones mean a lot to Savabeel as a stallion,” Rogerson said.
“He’s got the pedigree to produce stayers and we need staying sires to compete with the Europeans.”
With Scarlett Lady working hard to get back on track and now Dowager Queen coming through the staying ranks, there is every chance Rogerson and owner Max Whitby could be accepting for both Savabeel mares in the 2012 Melbourne Cup field.
“She (Scarlett Lady) will be back in the autumn and hopefully this time we get her to the Cup,” Rogerson said.
“Dowager Queen could be there too so long as she gets the 2500 meters as I think she will.”
Dowager Queen’s main rivals in the 2011 VRC Crown Oaks this afternoon are Thousand Guineas second placegetter Mosheen ($4.40 Luxbet), Wakeful runner-up Rahveel ($6 Luxbet) and the Bart Cummings-trained Gliding ($7 Luxbet) who defeated six of her 10 Oaks rivals in the Ethereal Stakes.
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