Four-time Coolmore Classic winning trainer Gai Waterhouse is preparing to launch a double-pronged attack on the 2015 edition of the fillies-and-mares’ feature, Adrift her strongest chance of scoring an upset on Saturday in Sydney’s Group 1.
A final field of 13 female gallopers is set to line-up in Rosehill Race 7 at 4:10pm (AEDT) in Saturday’s $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m).
Odds-on favourite in the current Coolmore Classic odds paying $1.80 through Ladbrokes.com.au is John Thompson’s Flight Stakes winning filly First Seal coming off a Group 2 Surround Stakes victory.
She is the sole single-figure hope in the markets and is well fancied to become the 12th three-year-old filly since 1983 to beat home her older rivals in the Coolmore Classic.
First Seal however has a tough task, despite what her short price suggests, as she runs in open-age company for the first time from a wide barrier 11 draw carrying 55.5kg.
The last filly to carry that weight to a Coolmore Classic victory was Assertive Lass back in 1997, one of four winners in the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival showdown for Waterhouse.
Waterhouse’s other Coolmore Classic winners are Tuesday Joy (2007), Shamekha (2004) and Bollinger (2003) – all also winning during their three-year-olds seasons.
This year she saddles-up Diamond Drille ($17) and Adrift ($15) drawn in barriers 10 and three respectively.
Of the two it is fellow three-year-old, Zabeel filly Adrift who Waterhouse has down as her best chance.
“She measures right up,” Waterhouse told AAP this week.
“I was quite adamant with the owners that she run in this race.
“I just thought it was the right race for her.”
A winner of three of her five starts to date, first-up in mid-February Adrift had her first black-type start when beating home First Seal in the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.
Her next run however saw her beaten five lengths by Thompson’s improver when seventh in the Group 2 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on February 28.
She is out to improve on that run this weekend then when up to 1500m with Tommy Berry in the saddle, the filly boasting winning form up to 1850m.
Diamond Drille meanwhile is a James McDonald mount drawn one inside Saturday’s favourite with gate 10.
The five-year-old hasn’t won a race in nearly 12 months, her latest turf triumph being the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) last April as a 40/1 outsider.
She comes via a disappointing 10th to Danesiri in the Group 3 Guy Walter Stakes (1400m) when beaten just over four lengths, but should enjoy the extra distance at Rosehill and will be improving now with a couple of runs under her belt.
“She’s just come right into her own,” Waterhouse said.
“She is such a big, burly mare. She will run an enormous race and James McDonald will suit her down to the ground.”
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