Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra’s smart filly Heatherly is one of the headline nominees for the Oakleigh Plate 2016 at Caulfield Racecourse on Blue Diamond Stakes Day this weekend in Melbourne.
One of three top level races on the program for Saturday, this season’s $500,000 Group 1 Clamms Seafood Oakleigh Plate (1100m) attracted 31 nominations.
Early Oakleigh Plate betting at bookmakers around the country is led by three-year-old Lonhro filly Heatherly who has won her past three starts on the trot.
The latest, which took her career record up to four wins from eight starts, was a five and a half length romp over Group 1 winner Politeness in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield on February 13.
She is now top fancy to complete the Rubiton Stakes – Oakleigh Plate double last achieved by Lankan Rupee (2014) and become the first three-year-old filly to win the Group 1 since Miss Kournikova (2001).
Ellerton & Zahra have also nominated for Dane Shadow five-year-old Trevinder, the gelding second at the track on February 6 behind Shakespearean Lass in the Listed W.J. Adams Stakes (1000m).
Battling for favouritism in early Oakleigh Plate betting with Heatherly is Bounding prepared by Peter & Paul Snowden in Sydney.
The five-year-old Lonhro mare will be first-up if accepted for on Saturday and boasts an outstanding record when fresh of four wins and two seconds from six starts to date.
She won the Group 3 The Heath 1100m at the track by four lengths in late August last year before her last start third to Catkins in the Group 3 Sheraco Stakes (1200m) in September.
She has trialled twice since in February including a five and a half-length winning hit-out at Randwick over 837m and is looking to become the third mare in four years to beat home the boys in the Oakleigh Plate joining Shamal Wind (2015) and Mrs Onassis (2013).
Last year’s winning trainer Robert Smerdon has two hopes in the mix this Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival with Atmospherical and Reldas both coming off unplaced WJ Adams runs.
The other early favourite for the win on the weekend meanwhile is Keen Array for David Hayes & Tom Dabernig.
A three-year-old son of Bel Esprit, Keen Array enjoyed back-to-back October wins at Moonee Valley and Caulfield respectively before his last start second to Japonisme in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington.
Japonisme returned last Saturday for a brave third in a blanket finish down the straight in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m), Keen Array out to further frank the Coolmore Stud Stakes form from the spring.
The last three-year-old Oakleigh Plate winner was Starspangledbanner (2010), Keen Array well fancied to be the next six years on.
The other highly fancied three-year-olds in the mix this season are Mick Price’s returning Not A Single Doubt filly Secret Agenda who won the Group 3 Red Roses (1100m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, the Peter Moody-trained Group 2 winning Exceed And Excel colt Kinglike and Headwater.
Prepared by Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes, Headwater is another son of Exceed And Excel and he won the Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) first-up at Flemington in late January.
See below for the full Oakleigh Plate 2016 nominations, the field and barrier draw due out on Wednesday morning.
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2016 Oakleigh Plate Nominations
Caulfield Racecourse – 27/02/2016
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Sex||Age||Trainer||Hcp. Rating|
|2||40x111492x||BLACK HEART BART||G||5||Darren Weir||106|
|3||12x202x13x||BOUNDING||M||5||Peter & Paul Snowden||108|
|4||x2497x380x||BRING ME THE MAID||M||4||Peter G Moody||98|
|6||23x815x13x||DOTHRAKI||G||5||Peter & Paul Snowden||106|
|7||215x5311x6||ECLAIR CHOICE||G||4||Phillip Stokes||105|
|8||45x557143x||FAST ’N’ ROCKING||G||5||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||106|
|9||111x41111x||FELL SWOOP||G||4||Matthew Dale||99|
|10||2301x2617x||FLAMBERGE||G||6||Peter G Moody||109|
|12||326x73082x||GREGERS||M||5||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||103|
|14||135x7948x1||HEADWATER||C||3||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||96|
|15||152×23111||HEATHERLY||F||3||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||103|
|16||0x9835x059||IT IS WRITTEN||G||7||Robbie Griffiths||96|
|17||40x112112x||KEEN ARRAY||G||3||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||96|
|18||21x16x||KINGLIKE||C||3||Peter G Moody||89|
|19||813x8375x5||KURO (NZ)||H||4||Lee & Anthony Freedman||99|
|20||227042270x||LORD OF THE SKY||H||5||Robbie Laing||105|
|21||31787x461x||PITTSBURGH FLYER||M||4||Lee & Shannon Hope||98|
|23||3×43849279||READY SUNSHINE||G||5||Ryan Balfour||71|
|25||1x0x1221x||SECRET AGENDA||F||3||Mick Price||88|
|26||4x08119x0x||SMOKIN’ JOEY||G||8||Wez Hunter||106|
|27||19x93123x1||SWINGING ARMS||G||5||Scott Trenowden||94|
|28||166x7621x3||THE QUARTERBACK||G||5||Robbie Griffiths||98|
|29||230×812532||TREVINDER||G||5||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||87|
|30||550x43510x||TRISTRAM’S SUN (NZ)||G||7||Robbie Laing||94|
|31||538x13641x||VEZALAY||M||4||Leon & Troy Corstens||96|