This Saturday in Melbourne Cox Plate winning hoop Chad Schofield will have his first ride aboard last year’s Blue Diamond Stakes winner Earthquake in the Oakleigh Plate 2015.
The daughter of Exceed And Excel won the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield Racecourse exactly 12 months ago last Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival when prepared by Peter Snowden for Darley Australia.
She was the third straight filly to beat home the boys in Victoria’s richest autumn race for juveniles and handed Snowden his second Blue Diamond win in four years follow the success of star colt Sepoy in 2011.
Snowden broke away from Darley, now Godolphin, and now trains in partnership with his son Paul – the two shooting for a Blue Diamond Stakes victory on Saturday with late entry and second pick in the markets at Ladbrokes.com.au Pride Of Dubai.
The John O’Shea-trained Sampeah, one of two chances in the field this year for Godolphin along with roughie shot Bantam, is also one of seven rides on the Blue Diamond Stakes Day program for Schofield.
His other top ride is in the $400,000 Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) for the now O’Shea-trained Earthquake.
It is a bumper Oakleigh Plate field this year with 18 sprinters originally accepted before Peter Moody scratched Flamberge this morning due to finding mucus on the horse’s throat earlier in the week.
Earthquake is hanging on to top spot in the markets paying $5.50 out from $5.
She has barrier 11 to overcome but the wide gate looks a non-issue statistically with Mrs Onassis winning from the barrier just two years ago.
Earthquake is first-up here and has a top record of two wins and a third from her three previous resuming runs.
Her last start was a disappointing eighth to Brazen Beau in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) down the Flemington straight on Victoria Derby Day last November.
She is tipped to improve on that in the open-age Oakleigh Plate however as she returns to a track she is undefeated at, Earthquake having won all three of her previous runs at Caulfield.
Her main dangers going by the Oakleigh Plate betting markets are Vain Queen ($6) drawn one on her inside who has won three from five over the 1100m, and Northern Meteor mare Atmospherical ($8) coming off a third to Chautauqua in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) at the track and distance a fortnight ago.
Schofield is yet to ride Earthquake but he won all five of his latest Group 1 races aboard horses he was riding for the first time, a pattern he hopes to repeat in the Oakleigh.
“I’ve trialled her both times this campaign, galloped her several times in the mornings and she’s going really well,” he told Racing Victoria.
“Although she’s first-up, she’s very fit and she’s done a lot of work and I’m hoping that with no weight on her back she can be handy on the speed and give a good kick and be strong to the line.”
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