When it comes to Group 1 barrier draws for his fillies, Caulfield’s Luke Oliver has a horror record including his in-form grey Kansas Sunflower drawn the car park for Saturday’s 2015 Schweppes Oaks in Adelaide.
In the capacity field of 16 starters plus four emergencies, Oliver’s Mastercraftsman filly Kansas Sunflower is drawn in 20, which will become 16 when the spares come out of the $400,000 Group 1 Schweppes Australasian Oaks (2000m).
She has eased right out to $21 in the latest Australasian Oaks odds at Ladbrokes.com.au then with the favourites Fontein Ruby ($3.40) and Fenway ($4.80) both drawn a treat with gates two and six respectively.
Kansas Sunflower has excellent lead-up form into her maiden Group 1 run, with a mile win at Flemington two back before her close second on debut in South Australia beaten a nose in the Group 3 Auraria Stakes (1800m) on April 18.
Oliver thought they were a good thing in that traditional Australasian Oaks lead-up, the Auraria Stakes having produced the past three winners of the Group 1 a fortnight later, when his filly came up trumps with barrier one.
A Soft (7) Morphettville track that day proved it paid to be drawn further out however, and that cost Kansas Sunflower the race.
There are sunny skies in Adelaide this weekend however and it looks like Robert Sangster Stakes Day and the Oaks will be run on a firmer track, playing into the hands of those drawn in single-digit barriers.
It seems Oliver is cursed in the fillies-only Group 1s, his chance in the Queensland Oaks in Brisbane last year Khutulun unable to finish better than 10th after a tough run from the outside alley (18) as a 20/1 shot behind Tinto.
Still, he isn’t giving into a hoodoo just yet and even from the wide gate hopes Kansas Sunflower can be competitive in a class field this weekend.
“It’s a Group 1 and you never know,” Oliver told Racing Victoria.
“When we were there two weeks ago we drew one and it ended up being that you wanted to draw out that day.
“Six of the first seven home in that race drew 10 and beyond so there’s always a chance it won’t be a bad thing.”
He does admit that the Robert Smerdon-trained Fontein Ruby and Lee & Shannon Hope’s Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes winner over the same distance in Sydney last time out Fenway are the deserving top fancies in the markets.
“Obviously it makes it tough, especially when you see horses like Fontein Ruby and Fenway drawing well,” he said.
“You’d think to beat those sort of horses you’d need all the favours and you’re not going to get them from barrier 20.”
No Australasian Oaks winner has jumped from the outside alley in the past 30 years, the widest-drawn winners doing it from gate 14 with Maybe Discreet (2013) and Small Minds (2010).
While the gate is bad on paper, there is no doubting Oliver is pleased with the condition of Kansas Sunflower who gets a 1.5k weight advantage over the filly who beat her home in the Auraria Stakes, Fitocracy, on Saturday.
“The whole prep has been around getting her to this race,” Oliver said.
“She’s been perfect the whole way through.”
He also hasn’t ruled out a run up in Brisbane’s $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Doomben on May 30.
Check out the full Australasian Schweppes Oaks 2015 betting odds and options open online now at Ladbrokes.com.au where if your horse is second or third past the post in the race on Saturday, you’ll get a bonus bet to compensate!