This weekend the Group 1 racing in Sydney may be taking centre stage but there is also some top action happening on the western coast of Australia with the WA Oaks 2014 at Ascot Racecourse in Perth.
One of two Group races on the program for Saturday, this year’s $250,000 Group 3 W.A. Oaks (2400m) has attracted a smart field of 11 staying fillies.
Heading the line-up is the Paula Wagg-trained Balmont Girl who gets the rails run from barrier one with Shaun O’Donnell in the saddle.
O’Donnell has been aboard the daughter of Balmont for all but two of her 14 starts to date including her trio of wins.
In flying form this summer – autumn season, Balmont Girl has been working her way up in distance preparing for her Oaks bid and doing a stellar job.
After a fourth to My Sister Lil in the Listed Ascot 1000 Guineas (1800m) at the start of the month, she again drew the outside barrier (16 of 16) for her latest start on March 15.
This time though she overcame the wide barrier, relishing the step up to 2200m to win the Listed Natasha Stakes by an impressive four and a half lengths making her the one to beat in the WA Oaks field.
The fillies that ran two-three behind Balmont Girl in the Natasha Stakes are also in the mix for Saturday, the Grant Williams-trained duo of Red Amber and Real Love drawn wide in barriers nine and 10 respectively.
Dylan Thomas filly Red Amber had her black type debut in the Natasha Stakes, and while she was beaten by a decent margin her second placing was a good effort considering the step up from 1600m to 2200m.
The mile run first-up was at Pinjarra and produced a win, but she’s also run top two over 2019m indicating she could like the Oaks’ distance this Saturday.
Real Love meanwhile improved in a 1000 Guineas sixth for her Natasha Stakes third which was a photo with stable mate Red Amber.
Only lightly raced with five starts on her record to date, she’s the improver in the field and could surprise with the right run.
Williams has a stranglehold over the WA Oaks line-up this year too numbers-wise saddling up a total of five of the 11 hopefuls.
His other fancies are Ascot 1000 Guineas runner-up Real Charm (barrier eight) who ran a luckless seventh in the Natasha after getting blocked for a run, Southern Image filly Dreamalong (barrier 11) and Blackfriars filly Midnight Shimmer (barrier 7) whose third in the 1000 Guineas was marred when she ran 14th beaten 12.5 lengths in the Natasha last time out.
Other notable hopes in the mix then include the Alan Kennedy-trained Charlie’s Chick seeing further than a mile for the first time and Eternal Secret for Chris Stelmach who ran fifth in both the 1000 Guineas and Natasha in their two most recent runs.
The full WA Oaks 2014 field, barriers and jockeys are detailed below.
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2014 WA Oaks Final Field & Barrier Draw
Ascot Race 5 – 3:05pm (local) – 29/03/2014
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.|
|1||x563322141||BALMONT GIRL||Paula Wagg||Shaun O’Donnell||1||55.5kg|
|2||2712×59130||MIDNIGHT SHIMMER||Grant Williams||Glenn Smith||7||55.5kg|
|3||2×1127||REAL CHARM||Grant Williams||Steven Parnham||8||55.5kg|
|4||940342×12||RED AMBER||Grant Williams||Lucas Camilleri||10||55.5kg|
|5||294x7x1480||ISOLA BLU||Daniel Morton||Troy Turner||4||55.5kg|
|6||5×2163||REAL LOVE||Grant Williams||William Pike||9||55.5kg|
|7||134×576||DREAMALONG||Grant Williams||Patrick Carbery||11||55.5kg|
|8||76×6332755||ETERNAL SECRET||Chris Stelmach||Jason Whiting||6||55.5kg|
|9||595244100||PINS PERHAPS (NZ)||Steve Wolfe||Shaun Mc Gruddy||2||55.5kg|
|10||37×380||DECREED||Fred Kersley||Ben Paterson (a)||5||55.5kg|
|11||837×404||CHARLIE’S CHICK||Alan Kennedy||Jarrad Noske||3||55.5kg|