Sydney-based jockey James McDonald shoots for his first Crown Oaks 2015 victory on Thursday at Flemington Racecourse and is confident his mount Ambience has what it takes to go the distance in the Melbourne Cup Carnival classic.
Due to jump as Flemington Race 8 at 4:40pm (AEST) this afternoon, the $1 million Group 1 VRC Crown Oaks (2500m) is available at Best Tote or SP + 20% along with the full Ladies Day card only at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Eleven three-year-old fillies are in the mix after the early scratching of the Clarry Conners-trained Ethereal Stakes winner Dawnie Perfect denying Hall of Fame hoop Jim Cassidy his chance to secure a sixth win in the race and his 105th Group 1 victory.
Four of the fillies still in the Crown Oaks field are under double figures in betting including the John O’Shea-trained Godolphin representative Ambience at $4.
She trails only the Ciaron Maher-trained Moonee Valley Vase winner Jameka ($3.90) and is now shorter in the Crown Oaks betting markets than one-time favourite Sacred Eye ($4.20).
Jumping from barrier nine, which last produced a Crown Oaks winner in Faint Perfume (2009), Ambience has won three of her six starts to date with McDonald aboard for the two most recent of those this time in.
After a third to Dawnie Perfect in the Ethereal two back, Street Cry filly Ambience had her second Melbourne run last start on Victoria Derby Day winning the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) by an easy three and a half lengths.
Four of the past six Crown Oaks winners had their final lead-ups in the Wakeful including Kirramosa who took out the double two years ago.
McDonald now rates Ambience a red hot hope of being the next filly to win the Wakeful Stakes – Crown Oaks double saying the step up to 2500m would be no worries for the versatile and easily adaptable filly.
“She’s a pretty adaptable filly that relaxes really well and has a good turn of foot and she sustains a really good gallop which is great sign for this type of race,” he told Racing Victoria.
“We’re lucky that she’s able to be ridden in different ways; she box-seated last Saturday and she came from second-last at Randwick.
“The good thing about her is her turn of foot so she’ll be able to get herself out of any trouble if she needs to.”
O’Shea is also confident of securing his maiden Crown Oaks win today saying Ambience had come out of the Wakeful and was ready to back-up just five days later in the Group 1.
“She’s had a great preparation and has done really well in the past few days since the race so I’m really looking forward to the race,” O’Shea said.
“We’d always hoped that she was going to be an Oaks filly and she just didn’t get on the right leg at Caulfield but once she got to Flemington and found the rail she really showed her class.
“She’s a filly that can reel off really good sectionals and I think she’s adept in any sort of ground so we’re really looking forward to the race.”
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