Ciaron Maher is confident his Crown Oaks winner Set Square is fit enough to beat home all her rivals and win first-up in the 2015 The Vanity at Flemington Racecourse this weekend.
There are 10 classy three-year-old fillies accepted to face off in the $150,000 Group 3 The Vanity (1400m) on Black Caviar Lightning Stakes Day on Saturday.
Leading the current The Vanity odds at Ladbrokes.com.au is the undefeated Wawail ($2.60) after her fifth win from as many starts.
Also at single figures but at a more generous quote in The Vanity betting is Maher’s returning Group 1 Crown Oaks champ over 2500m at the track last November Set Square at $7.50.
Wawail, a Michael Walker mount, is drawn in barrier nine while Set Square is one wider in the outside barrier 10 draw for jockey Michelle Payne who replaces her Crown Oaks winning hoop Hugh Bowman.
That’s a barrier that Maher will be giving Payne simple instructions to overcome.
“From that gate, we won’t be asking her to go forward and sit on the speed,” he told RSN on Thursday.
“From there, we’ll go back and let her get comfortable and peel out in the straight and see what she can do.”
The favourite Wawail has the fitness advantage on paper in The Vanity coming off a first-up victory at the track over 1100m from January 31.
Also high up the markets and with previous form this time in is the Team Hawkes-trained Group 2 Edward Manifold Stakes runner-up Maastricht ($4.80) who ran fourth over 1250m at Canterbury earlier this month.
Reset filly Set Square meanwhile hasn’t run since November 6 during the Melbourne Cup Carnival when she capped off a stellar opening campaign with her third win on the trot in the Crown Oaks.
She hasn’t had an official trial and is over a distance that is likely short of her best, the filly not having won over shorter than a mile (1600m), but Maher remains convinced she can score an upset The Vanity result.
“I think she’s forward enough (to win), definitely,” Maher said.
“She had about five weeks off and didn’t lose a lot of fitness. She retained a lot and we’ve sort of been ticking her over.
“She’s quite a natural stayer and we haven’t had to do a lot with her.
“She’s shown at home body-wise that she’s furnished as a horse and she’s a little sharper that last time around.”
While she hasn’t had a trial, she has shown off in two jumpouts including a strong hit-out at Sandown on Tuesday morning.
Set Square is again on an Oaks mission this season.
She is nominated for the $1 million Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick in Sydney on April 11.
In the early ATC Australian Oaks odds at Ladbrokes.com.au she’s second pick in the markets at $7 trailing only John Thompson’s Flight Stakes winner First Seal ($5) who returned with a second in the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at Randwick last weekend.
First though Set Square has to account for the fillies in The Vanity on the weekend.
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