After a super spring campaign which culminated with a Crown Oaks victory at Flemington, Clarry Conners’ consistent filly Dear Demi will look to repeat the feat of a Group 1 Oaks win this time in when she begins her Australian Oaks 2013 campaign in Saturday’s $175,000 Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens.
Last year’s Light Fingers Stakes winner Streama bypassed the $550,000 Group 1 ATC Australian Oaks (2400m), running this autumn at Royal Randwick on April 20, but the race still proved a beautiful formline as she won back-to-back Group 1 features with the BTC Cup and Domben 10,000 double during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
Conners is hoping the Light Fingers Stakes 2013 can kick off a similarly successful preparation for his daughter of Dehere Dear Demi who hasn’t raced since her 1.3 length win over Zydeco in the Crown Oaks (2500m) on November 8 during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
That was her fourth Group 1 assignment having also run second to Golden Slipper winner Pierro in the Champagne Stakes, third to Norzita in the Fight Stakes and second to Commanding Jewel in the Thousand Guineas.
Set to go down the traditional Australian Oaks path via races such as the $175,000 Group 2 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on March 9, Dear Demi has a solid first-up record and Conners is hoping she will build on that this weekend with Jim Cassidy to reunite with her.
“It’s the right progression for her,” Conners said of the Surround Stakes.
She caught the eye in her first barrier trial of the year on February 4 over 800m when finishing a close third beaten under a length behind Lightning Stakes rival Brave Soul boosting her trainer’s confidence.
“She is just right for 1200 metres,” Conners said.
“She’s a bit fresh. I expect her to be running home but I also expect her to go well.
“She is beautiful and this race suits her.”
Conners also has two other Group 1 targets on Dear Demi’s program leading into the Oaks with the $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) on March 23 and the $400,000 Group 1 Storm Queen Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on Golden Slipper Day, April 6.
Among her more notable likely Light Fingers Stakes rivals meanwhile are Grahame Begg’s Magic Millions Fillies & Mares Handicap winner Bennetta and the Gai Waterhouse-trained Driefontein, with the final field and barriers due for release on Wednesday.
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