Zahra Sticks with Australasian Oaks 2015 Favourite

Mark Zahra will be back aboard the favourite in Saturday’s 2015 Australasian Oaks in Adelaide when the hoop reunites and continues his association with the Robert Smerdon-trained filly Fontein Ruby.

Mark Zahra

Mark Zahra jumps back aboard Fontein Ruby for the 2015 Schweppes Oaks in Adelaide on Saturday. Photo: Adrienne Bicknell.

Three-year-old Turffontein filly Fontein Ruby is the early favourite through at a current pre-field quote of $3.40 to win her maiden elite level in the $400,000 Group 1 Australasian Schweppes Oaks (2000m) at Morphettville Racecourse.

A winner of six of her previous 17 starts, she comes off back-to-back Melbourne wins this season including the Listed Alexandra Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley two back following a failed 14th when dead last in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington in early March.

She is back up to Group 1 company on Saturday but this time over more distance against her own kind.

Fontein Ruby has had two previous runs over the 2000m, including a win in the Group 3 Caulfield Classic last October.

Zahra, Victoria’s leading jockey, rode her in that as part of a nine-straight race run he had will the filly, jumping aboard again for her Alexandra Stakes success.

Last time out however it was Nicholas Hall in the saddle when Fontein Ruby won the lucrative $250,000 VOBIS Gold Reef over the Caulfield mile on April 18, which took her earnings up over the $1 million mark.

Zahra is looking forward to the chance to take out South Australia’s premier race for fillies aboard the top fancy, the 32-year-old’s 11th ride on her.

Second favourite in the early Australasian Oaks odds at Ladbrokes paying $6 for the win is then the Lee & Shannon Hope-trained High Chaparral filly Fenway after her second Group 1 win on the trot.

Last time out on the back of some top lead-up for in Melbourne, the Seymour-based youngster travelled to Sydney’s Rosehill Racecourse and enjoyed a narrow victory in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m).

Blake Shinn rode Fenway to victory last start, the filly overcoming a hoof abscess this week and down to gallop at Morphettville on Tuesday morning.

Another confirmed Schweppes Oaks jockey in 2015 is Perth’s top hoop William Pike who rides the WA raider Delicacy, an $11 chance for the win in the current markets.

The daughter of Al Maher must make the step up in grade taking on the eastern state fillies coming from the west, but she’s had a cracking campaign with four straight Ascot wins since late February.

The past two of those were over the 2400m in the Group 3 WA Oaks and the Group 2 WATC Derby, with Pike aboard, but whether the drop down to 2000m is too sharp for her is yet to be determined.

Other fillies high up the latest Australasian Oaks betting markets include the Chris Waller-trained duo of Ballet Suite and Wine Tales who pay $8 to win as does the Nigel Blackiston-trained Domesday filly Cathy’s Mark.

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