Valley Run for 2016 ATC Oaks Hope Lopartega

Cranbourne’s Doug Harrison is hoping his lightly raced filly Lopartega develops into an ATC Oaks 2015 hope in Sydney this coming autumn with her next run under the lights at Moonee Valley on Friday night.

The three-year-old daughter of Lope De Vega has had four career starts to date for one win, a second and a third having broken her maiden status last time out at Cranbourne on November 27 over the mile.

It was an impressive two length victory and showed her liking for extra distance as she went out over the 1600m for the first time with regular rider Ibrahim Gundogdu.

Tonight at Moonee Valley the up-and-comer shoots for back-to-back wins when she runs in Race 2 at 7:15pm (AEST) as one of just five remaining hopes in the $40,000 TCL Curved TV Handicap (1600m).

Two early scratchings from the Benchmark 64 mile showdown for three-year-old fillies have left the betting markets at a wide open affair with Miss Cooper and Lopartega the current $2.50 co-favourites.

Prepared by Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra, Medaglia D’Oro filly Miss Cooper is a last start winner at the track and distance by a runaway five and a half-length margin and will be hard to hold out again.

If anything beats her it will be Harrison’s improver who showed a nice sprint in her recent win against easier class as the odds-on favourite.

The two clashed at Cranbourne with Lopartega coming away the winner and Harrison hopes his filly can get the job done again here in her first city start with Gundogdu retaining the ride from barrier four.

“I’m very happy with her, she’s just picked up with each start,” he told Racing Victoria.

“She had a lovely third first-up at Cranbourne, was unlucky to just miss out on the win at Geelong behind an odds-on favourite of the Hawkes’ and she was great last start in a slowly run race which probably doesn’t suit her and she was still able to sprint quickly off that and put them away.

“She’s progressing very well and gives us the feeling that she’s going to be a very nice staying filly.

“She’s raced against some of the others before and I think they had their chances then.

“Miss Cooper has got the advantage of having a run at Moonee Valley since, but I definitely think our filly is still the one they’ve got to beat.”

After tonight’s run Harrison plans to send Lopartega out for a break before coming back for an Oaks campaign in the autumn.

Should she show the class and staying potential she will be aimed at either the $1 million Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick on Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day during Sydney’s The Championships on April 9 or the $400,000 Group 1 Schweppes Oaks (2000m) at Morphettville in May.

“She’ll probably have a break and get ready for the late autumn. I’m hoping she’ll become an Oaks filly, whether that’s in Adelaide or Sydney,” Harrison said yesterday.

“She’s always had a great action and been able to really move.

“She’s come back in this time a lot better and has matured quite a lot, and I think she’s only going to improve on this prep again.

“It would be nice to finish this campaign off on a winning note tomorrow night.”

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