The two classy female gallopers likely to lead the betting for Saturday’s Oakleigh Plate 2015 at Caulfield, Earthquake and Vain Queen have two wide draws to overcome in the sprint showdown.
One of three elite level Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival features on the program for Blue Diamond Stakes Day this weekend, the $400,000 Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) has drawn a capacity field of 18 sprinters facing off in Race 7 at 5:15pm (AEDT).
Leading the pre-field Oakleigh Plate odds at bookmakers around the country, the John O’Shea-trained Exceed And Excel filly Earthquake has barrier 11 with Chad Schofield to ride in her first-up run of the season.
Twelve months ago, when under the training of Peter Snowden, Earthquake won the Blue Diamond Stakes on this day and returns a year later looking for another Group 1 win to add to her record.
She should be flying with 50.5kg in the Oakleigh Plate at a track she’s undefeated over with three wins from three starts at Caulfield.
A winner of over $1.7 million in prize money already, Earthquake was last seen running eighth when taking on the boys in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) on Derby Day back in November.
She’s had two winning Cranbourne trials to bring her on fitness-wise ahead of the Oakleigh Plate where she shoots for her third win from four starts first-up.
Drawn one on Earthquake’s inside in the Oakleigh Plate barriers is another top fancy, the John Sadler-trained Vain Queen also resuming here.
Damian Lane has the ride on the consistent Artie Schiller mare, the five-year-old having won two from three first-up.
Her latest start was a Group 3 win in the GH Mumm Stakes over this distance (1100m) at Flemington on November 6 that followed four fourth place finishes during the spring.
She’s a short distance specialist, the Mumm Stakes her third win from five starts over the 1100m and even from the gate will be right in the Oakleigh Plate mix.
Robert Smerdon’s Dubawi five-year-old Shamal Wind is another top mare the bookies had picked out as a genuine Oakleigh Plate threat who will need to be at her best to overcome a horror draw.
She’s out in barrier 15 for her second run of the season after winning the Listed WJ Adams Stakes (1000m) at Sandown-Hillside last month by two and a quarter lengths.
Shamal Wind, third to Vain Queen in the GH Mumm Stakes during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, carried 56kg that day with Dwayne Dunn aboard.
Dunn stays on for Saturday’s Group 1 test with the mare going down to 54kg but will have to ride a tactical race from that alley.
Drawn far better with barrier four is then the David Pfieffer-trained Atmospherical with an advantageous gate for jockey Craig Williams.
The Sydney raider has won six of her 11 starts to date, the four-year-old daughter of Northern Meteor’s most recent run being a third to Team Hawkes’ star sprinter Chautauqua in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m).
That was Atmospherical’s fifth run over 1100m and her only loss as she’s won her other four starts over a distance she should be flying over this weekend.
Also coming off a top three run in the Rubiton Stakes is the Peter Moody-trained Exceed And Excel gelding Flamberge who ran a neck away second.
His luck in the Oakleigh Plate gates however was the opposite of Atmospherical’s with jockey Vlad Duric facing the tough assignment from barrier 17.
The extreme outside barrier 18 then belongs to the Jason Warren-trained 58kg top weight Bel Sprinter, The Galaxy winner’s hopes of taking out another Group 1 dashed by the nasty draw.
Eloping meanwhile is a dual acceptor for Melbourne this weekend.
The Peter Morgan & Craig Widdison-trained Choisir filly is in the fields for both the $150,000 Group 3 Typhoon Tracy Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Friday night and Saturday’s Oakleigh Plate.
In the Group 3 she’s the 58.5kg top weight drawn in barrier nine of nine, but for the Oakleigh she’ll carry the 50.5kg minimum weight from barrier six should she be saved for the Group 1.
Other notable Oakleigh Plate hopefuls include the resuming Gary Portelli-trained I’m All The Talk, San Domenico Stakes winning colt Nostradamus out in barrier 14 and Group 3 winner Fast ‘n’ Rocking also wide with barrier 16 for jockey Michael Walker.
See below for the full Oakleigh Plate 2015 field, barriers, jockeys and weights.
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2015 Oakleigh Plate Final Field & Barrier Draw
Caulfield Race 7 (5:15pm) – 28/02/2015
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||94800x167x||BEL SPRINTER||Jason Warren||Ben Melham||18||58kg||108|
|2||1x107643x2||FLAMBERGE||Peter G Moody||Vlad Duric||17||55.5kg||103|
|3||4673667121||IT IS WRITTEN||Robbie Griffiths||Matthew Allen||5||55kg||102|
|4||85x14131x3||FAST ’N’ ROCKING||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Michael Walker||16||54kg||100|
|5||15x43333x1||SHAMAL WIND||Robert Smerdon||Dwayne Dunn||15||54kg||104|
|6||x46114441x||VAIN QUEEN||John Sadler||Damian Lane||10||54kg||104|
|7||21144×4227||LORD OF THE SKY||Robbie Laing||Stephen Baster||7||53kg||98|
|8||12110x507x||SISTINE DEMON||Andrew Noblet||Ms Michelle Payne||9||53kg||98|
|9||2147x2208x||A TIME FOR JULIA||Peter G Moody||Glen Boss||3||52.5kg||101|
|10||11x63311x3||ATMOSPHERICAL||David Pfieffer||Craig Williams||4||52.5kg||96|
|11||x4729340x5||GENERAL JACKSON||Pat Carey||TBA||13||52.5kg||81|
|12||0x46x5229x||I’M ALL THE TALK||Gary Portelli||Ms Winona Costin (a)||8||52.5kg||97|
|13||205x12497x||ICONIC||Tony McEvoy||Chris Parnham (a)||1||52.5kg||97|
|14||184313212x||UNDER THE LOUVRE||Robert Smerdon||Daniel Moor||12||52.5kg||97|
|15||1x558x65x5||WHITTINGTON||John P Thompson||Dean Yendall||2||52.5kg||93|
|16||1112x3318x||EARTHQUAKE||John O’Shea||Chad Schofield||11||50.5kg||103|
|17||14x31162x7||ELOPING||Peter Morgan & Craig Widdison||TBA||6||50.5kg||92|
|18||147x17520x||NOSTRADAMUS||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Patrick Moloney (a)||14||50.5kg||86|