Last year’s runner-up Rue Maple will be looking to go one better in the Sir John Monash Stakes 2012 at Melbourne’s Caulfield Racecourse on Saturday but has work to do after the classy Darren Weir-trained mare came up with a horror gate.
The Rubiton five-year-old came within a length of winner Secret Flyer in the $100,000 Listed Sir John Monash Stakes (1200m) 12 months ago when ridden by Michelle Payne from barrier six in the small seven horse field.
This year the 2012 Sir John Monash Stakes field is more than double that with 16 starters plus an emergency engaged to face off, Rue Maple drawing one of the worst with barrier 15.
Despite the gate Ballarat-based Weir remains hopeful the consistent Rue Maple can finally break through at stakes level on Saturday.
“She may have only had the one win in the last year, but she’s been going around in some very good races and she’s always been round about them,” Weir said.
“Even in a Group One at Moonee Valley she wasn’t that far from the real good horses (when fifth to Sepoy in the Manikato Stakes).
“Rue Maple probably isn’t going as well as she was then, but she wouldn’t have to be.”
This prep she has had five starts finishing inside the top four each time and also boasts a first-up win back in April at Cauflield over 1100-metres.
Last time out she ran second, albeit beaten nearly five lengths, to Tariana in a mares-only handicap over this track and distance carrying 60kg.
She goes back down to 56.5kg on Saturday with Brad Rawiller retaining the ride with her last start conqueror Tariana also engaged.
“From barrier 15 he’ll just have to ride her well and he seems to be doing that lately,” Weir said of Rawiller on Rue Maple, the mare also likely to be suited to the wet track at Cauflield this weekend.
The Mick Price-trained Anabaa mare Tariana meanwhile has drawn far more favourably with gate two but will meet Rue Maple on equal weights this time around.
Price will also be represented in the field by new stable addition Night War in barrier six.
Formerly prepared in WA by Simon Miller, Night War has won five of her nine starts including the Group 2 Karrakatta Plate, Group 3 Lee Steer Classic and the Perth Magic Millions 3YO Classic at her last start back in February.
Other notable Sir John Monash Stakes hopefuls dominating the early markets include Peter Moody’s lightly-raced Anabaa filly Le Societe, last start AR Creswick Stakes runner-up Zamorar, David Hayes’ former Group 1 winner Eagle Falls and the Clinton McDonald-trained local Second Effort.
Also engaged is the defending champ Secret Flyer who is rated about a $26 roughie to score successive victories.
Weir meanwhile will also saddle up Royal Bender and Platelet, drawn in barrier seven and 11.
Refuse To Bend mare Royal Bender comes off some crack form including a last-start second to Griffon in the Listed lightning Handicap (1000m) at Eagle Farm back on June 9 while Strategic filly Platelet comes off back-to-back wins including her most recent at Caulfield over the 1200-metres.
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