The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
A line-up of potential ATC Oaks fillies for the Group 1 Saturday week are engaged in this weekend’s Adrian Knox Stakes 2018 field including Luvaluva.
Closing the bumper nine-race Royal Randwick card for Day 1 of ‘The Championships’, the Group 3 $200,000 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) features 14 three-year-old fillies.
The handicap clash serves as a final lead-up to the Group 1 $1 million Australian Oaks (2400m) back at the track on April 14.
The John Sargent-trained Gust Of Wind (4th in 2015) was the last Australian Oaks winner to come out of the Adrian Knox Stakes when she won in an upset defeating the since undefeated Winx.
This Saturday the narrow favourite in Adrian Knox Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au heading towards an ATC Oaks bid seven days later is Luvaluva also prepared by Sargent.
The Mastercraftsman filly is $3.10 to win this weekend and pays $11 in the all-in Australian Oaks odds.
Luvaluva was scratched from last weekend’s Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill after she was found to be suffering from an elevated white cell count.
She gets the chance to atone this weekend over the same distance at Randwick drawn well in gate six with Kerrin McEvoy retaining the ride.
He guided her to victory on March 16 in the Group 3 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m) and the step-up in distance should suit Luvaluva this weekend as she won the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes over the metres at Flemington last VRC Derby Day.
The only thing working against Saturday’s favourite in the last is the 60kg top weight, Luvaluva meeting all 13 of her rivals seven kilos worse off.
Close second favourite in the Adrian Knox Stakes odds at $3.40 is the lightly-raced Harmattan representing the powerhouse Godolphin stable.
Michael Walker rides the James Cummings-trained Street Cry filly four the fourth time in as many career runs, Harmattan having her Sydney debut on Saturday.
She was last seen stepping-up to black-type company for the first time at The Valley on March 23 when only a neck beaten for second in the Group 3 Alexandra Stakes (1600m).
This is an obvious acid test, but she looks set to handle the extra distance well dropping two kilos from last time out.
Despite the size of the Adrian Knox Stakes field there is just one other chance under $10 for the win with money coming for the consistent Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained Wedgie.
Co-trainer Waterhouse has prepared three previous Australian Oaks winners and this season Foxwedge filly Wedgie is rated a $26 shot to hand her a fourth win.
That is a price sure to firm should she come out and return to winning form in the Adrian Knox on the weekend, jockey Tim Clark aboard the chestnut from barrier 11.
Wedgie enjoyed back-to-back wins in easier grade during the summer before the close third when under a length beaten by Luvaluva in the Kembla Grange Classic, form that could stack-up on Saturday.
Other notable hopes in the mix including the flying Kris Lees-trained Chilly Cha Cha ($14) in gate three chasing a third win on the trot and the rails-drawn Pretty To Sea ($19) who has firmed early after opening at $26.
Check out the full Adrian Knox Stakes 2018 field and betting markets below, prices open now through Ladbrokes.com.au.
2018 Adrian Knox Stakes Field & Betting
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