Warwick Farm horseman Bruce Cross is confident his upset Adrian Knox Stakes winner from last weekend Diamond Made will handle the step up in distance for her Australian Oaks 2016 bid this Saturday at Royal Randwick.
The three-year-old daughter of Duke Of Marmalade scored a big boilover in the Group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) on Day 1 of ‘The Championships’, earning a shot at the $1 million Group 1 James Boag’s Premium Australian Oaks (2400m) seven days later saluting as a $41 roughie.
She and hoop Glyn Schofield had a length to spare over Alaskan Rose on the line in the Adrian Knox, which was a sharp improvement from the winner whose previous start produced a dead-last 14th place effort over the same distance at Kembla Grange.
It was also Diamond Made’s maiden win at start number seven, but was enough to convince Cross she’s worthy of a shot at the big time over the mile and a half in the Oaks.
Cross is excited to saddle-up a Group 1 starter during one of the premier races of the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, admitting it had been a long time since he had a runner in an elite level feature.
He prepared the 2011 Epsom Handicap champion Final Fantasy, but believes his last Group 1 runner would have been 11 years ago with Final Fantasy’s full-brother Padfoot Charlie who ran fourth to Mahtoum in the 2005 Sydney Cup.
“We’ve been in hibernation,” Cross joked to AAP this week.
“I’m looking forward to Saturday and the Oaks.
“Diamond Made has pulled up well from the race and will have a comfortable week leading into the Oaks.
“She got under everyone’s radar but I knew all along she had talent and that the 2000 metres would suit.
“We won’t be changing much in the lead-up and I’m sure she will run a creditable race.”
The final Australian Oaks field was released on Tuesday morning with a full line-up of 14 starters plus two emergencies in Zasorceress (4) and Aurora’s Star (14).
Leading the field and Australian Oaks odds at Ladbrokes.com.au is the Ciaron Maher-trained Crown Oaks winner Jameka, who suffered a blow with yet another wide barrier draw in the outside alley.
She’ll start from 14 of 14 with Damien Oliver retaining the ride after guiding her to a third from 14 of 14 in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) two back and her brave second to upset winner Tavago from gate 12 of 13 in last Saturday’s Group 1 ATC Derby (2400m).
Diamond Made meanwhile has come up trumps with barrier five, into four if the emergencies fail to gain a start.
Schofield, who chases his first Australian Oaks winning ride, retains his association with Cross’s filly who is out to complete the Adrian Knox Stakes – ATC Oaks double for the first time since Royal Descent (2013).
Last year’s Australian Oaks winner Gust Of Wind was also an Adrian Knox Stakes graduate having run fourth before her upset win as a 16/1 shot from barrier 5 of 10.
Barrier four meanwhile produced the previous year’s Oaks champ with Rising Romance saluting on a Heavy (8) track from the gate in a 15-starter field.
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