Trainer John Sargent is thrilled with the condition of Thunder Lady ahead of her sixth run of the season on Saturday, but has conceded the mare faces a big task in gaining ballot-free exemption into next week’s Melbourne Cup by winning the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington.
Thunder Lady was a standout performer for Sargent through the 2014 edition of the Spring Carnival, highlighted by success in the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) and a close second in the Group 1 Crown Oaks over the course and distance of the Lexus Stakes, but is yet to find similar form this time.
Confident she is at her best for the 2015 Lexus Stakes, Sargent told Racing Ahead Thunder Lady should be suited to the conditions of the Group 3 race but believes she faces a big task in gaining the ballot-free entry to the Melbourne Cup offered to the race winner, owing to the number of horses targeting the same prize.
“She seems right,” Sargent said.
“She did a bit of steady work this morning, galloped well on the course and the big track at Flemington will just suit her down to the ground.
“It’s a roll of the dice. We’ve got to win but we’ve got to have a go. She’s fit and well and let’s hope we’ve got her right at the right time.
“There’s five of six of them trying to get in, so I guess the best one will get in.”
Thunder Lady has drawn barrier seven for the 2015 Lexus Stakes, and Sargent believes the alley will be ideal for jockey Chris Parnham to settle the four-year-old off pace before mounting a final assault on the big Flemington straight.
“She’ll go back a bit, I think she’s ridden better a bit colder,” Sargent said.
“She’s drawn seven, they’ll start rolling and it will come down to the final straight to determine who is the best stayer.”
Thunder Lady clearly needed the run and more distance when returning this year for twelfth in the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m), but continued to improve through autumn in placing fifth in the Group 3 Keith F Nolan Classic (1600m), third in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) and fifth in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m).
Failing to beat a single runner home in each of her first two starts this time, the Mastercraftsman mare ran second in the Benalla Cup (2046m) on October 2nd before finishing sixth in the Group 3 David Jones Cup (2000m) a fortnight ago.
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