Despite a nasty double digit draw for the Queensland Oaks 2014 Victorian filly Khutulun can still score an upset Group 1 win this Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival according to jockey Ben Melham.
Melham was initially disappointed when is mount Khutulun drew barrier 22 of 23, which becomes 17 of 18 with emergencies out, for this weekend’s $400,000 Group 1 Treasury Casino & Hotel Queensland Oaks (2400m).
The Eagle Farm feature on Saturday however is not outside of the Luke Oliver-trained filly’s grasp according to Melham, back in the saddle for just three weeks post-hip surgery, who is still very excited about their prospects.
“I would have loved to have a better barrier but I’ll just have to negotiate that,” he said.
The bookies have also kept the daughter of Soldier’s Tale safe in Queensland Oaks betting with Khutulun one of only three fillies in the capacity field at single-figures to win.
Queensland Oaks odds are firmly led by the rails-drawn Arabian Gold, David Vandyke’s Dubawi grey paying $2.50 to score the Doomben Roses – Oaks double for the first time since Scarlett Lady (2011).
The Roses runner-up Tinto, who won the Gold Coast Bracelet in the wet the start before, is then next best in betting at $7.50 before Khutulun occupies the third line at $8.
There’s been some early money for her too with the rain in Brisbane, Khutulun having run second third over 2000m in her only start on a Slow track to date at Caulfield earlier in the month.
Her latest run though was the one that urged connections to pay the late entry and get her into Queensland Oaks calculations.
On May 17 she lined up, over the 2000m at Caulfield again, in a three-year-olds handicap and caught the eye when one and a half lengths away second behind Queensland Derby hope Sonntag.
The winning Henry Dwyer-trained Teolfilo gelding Sonntag is a $13 chance for the $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm Saturday week, a price that will firm if Khutulun franks the lead-up form with her Oaks run.
She races interstate for the first time here and the 2400m is also a query, as it is for the majority of the field including the favourite Arabian Gold, but there’s still plenty to like about the visiting Melbournite and Melham doesn’t seem concerned over the distance.
“The trip will be no concern and I have no doubt she will run it out,” he said.
“I rode her so she was strong at the end of the 2000 metres last start and I don’t have any doubt she will run the 2400 metres.”
If successful in scoring an upset Queensland Oaks result Melham will be celebrating his second Group 1 win since his return following a boilover in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville with $41 outsider Smokin’ Joey.
Oliver meanwhile shoots for his first Group 1 trophy as a trainer, the horseman very happy with Khutulun’s work the reverse way at Caulfield on Tuesday morning before her trip to Queensland.
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