Despite earlier shoe dramas this week, race favourite Arabian Gold is spot-on for her Queensland Oaks 2014 bid this weekend according to trainer David Vandyke.
After originally looking in doubt for the $400,000 Group 1 Treasury Casino & Hotel Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm Racecourse following a twisted shoe, Dubawi filly Arabian Gold has shown no signs of lameness.
“Her foot is OK,” Vandyke told The Daily Telegraph.
“If there was something brewing, it would be coming up now, but she’s sound and the vet is happy, the farrier is happy and her trackwork rider is happy.”
Queensland Oaks betting was suspended after the pre-track galloper drama on Tuesday, however the markets are back up on the bumper field with Arabian Gold at $2.50 to win.
She’s the deserving favourite having won three on the trot including the traditional Oaks lead-up, the Group 2 The Roses (2000m) at Doomben last start, but the shoe scare has frightened off some of her supporters.
The $2.50 then is a juicy price according to Sydney-based Vandyke especially after she came up trumps with barrier one for Saturday’s showdown.
“I would have thought after the barrier draw she’d have been a shorter price,” he said.
“But I’m no expert.”
It’s the same gate she jumped from in The Roses on May 17, Arabian Gold having gotten away well from the inside alley, settling on the fence in a prime spot and then making her move at the 500m mark for an easy win.
Riding tactics are set to be the same in the Group 1 then with Vandyke hoping at the roomy Eagle Farm track from a gun gate Arabian Gold can stretch out to the mile and a half despite his doubts.
She saw 2500m in the Group 1 Crown Oaks at Flemington when also drawn in gate one last spring finishing sixth to Kirramosa, but has matured a lot since.
“I don’t believe she’s a 2400m horse, when she was down the straight in the VRC Oaks, she had enough,” Vandyke said.
“I’ve waited and waited to try her over the distance again, and if she gets beaten because of the distance, I won’t be surprised.”
Jockey Blake Shinn stays on after riding her to victory here, and three back for her Group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) win in Sydney on April 12.
He believes that she will get the distance under these conditions and come away with a win.
“With the beautiful barrier that should allow her to settle and will give her every chance,” Shinn said.
“From gate one we should be able to settle in the first six or seven and I can put her to sleep.
“In the Doomben Roses she had plenty in the tank, I could have sat on her as long as I wanted to, and she would have sprinted just as well.”
While it’s a capacity Queensland Oaks field only two of Arabian Gold’s rivals are at single figures for an upset.
She’s followed in the markets by the Rex Lipp-trained Silk Stocking winner Tinto ($7.50) who will be looking to stay out of trouble this time and improve on their The Roses second.
Luke Oliver’s late entry Khutulun at $8 is then the third fancy, the Victorian filly with the second widest gate to overcome in their Queensland debut.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for our 2014 Queensland Oaks form tips and preview.
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