Hard-working Morphettville horseman David Balfour has named the Oakleigh Plate 2012 at Caulfield during the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival next month as a possible aim for his brilliant mare Obsidian Dragon who races in the Kensington Stakes on Saturday.
The Hidden Dragon four-year-old sees Flemington for the first time in the $125,000 Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m), but despite it being her maiden run at Victoria’s premier course, Obsidian Dragon is one of the short-priced fancies in the Luxbet markets.
Drawn ideally in barrier five with 27-year-old Daniel Moor engaged to ride her for the first time, she comes off three straight wins over the distance and as such pays $8.50 in the Kensington Stakes odds at Luxbet.
After back-to-back wins at her home track in Adelaide, Obsidian Dragon burst onto the Melbourne racing scene with a speedy display to win the Fisher & Paykel Premium Handicap (1000m) at Moonee Valley on New Year’s Eve by an easy three lengths over the Heath Conners-trained Centexpress.
For that emphatic victory she carried a hefty 59.5kg with Steven Arnold in the mount.
On Saturday Arnold rides Kensington Stakes rival First Command, current $5 favourite at Luxbet, the heavyweight hoop unable to get down to Obsidian Dragon’s advantageous 56kg allocation.
Boasting the second highest overall Place Rate of the field with 71.43%, trailing only Weekend Special (100%) who is the $6 second-elect in the Kensington Stakes markets at Luxbet, Obsidian Dragon is well positioned to continue her purple patch of form.
“She gives everything and a bit more,” Balfour said.
“She gives plenty of fight and will not sit down on you. She toughs it out all the way.”
Should she continue to show improvement, Balfour is keen to test her against even better company with the $350,000 Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) on Blue Diamond Stakes Day, February 25, on the radar.
“I think if we are to look at races like the Oakleigh Plate and the like, she’s going to have to come through with a good result on Saturday,” Balfour said.
While Obsidian Dragon has racked up three on the trot, her trainer is all too aware of the class rise she faces for the Kensington and the depth of this year’s field.
“Sure, last time was against mares, and this time we are pitted against all comers,” he said.
“But we have to get a gauge on how she is going and where she is going this autumn.
“If Saturday shows she is out of her depth then we will come home and look at the (South Australian) carnival over here.”
How she will cope with the famous Flemington straight is also a question Balfour can’t wait to have answered, as it will open up even more autumn possibilities should she handle it well.
“That question I can’t answer, but when we raced at Victoria Park here in Adelaide we had a straight 1000 metre track and history showed that those with good pace and could race on the speed had a good record,” he said.
One thing boosting his confidence is Obsidian Dragon’s front-running style that should, if Balfour’s historical recall is correct, give them an advantage.
“I think nine of the last 10 winners down the straight 1000 metres at Flemington have all led, so if that number is correct we will be very much in the mix,” he said.
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