Jockey Mark Zahra is back aboard his favourite filly Fontein Ruby for this weekend’s G1 Australian Oaks at Morphettville, where the pair will try and enhance their already impressive record. Zahra, who missed Fontein Ruby’s most recent win due to suspension, has partnered Robert Smerdon’s filly ten times in the past for five wins and two placings, with punters liking the strike and installing her the $3.20 favourite for the $400k feature event. Last start Group 1 winner Fenway ($4.40) and Western Australian visitor Delicacy ($7.50) are the only other runners in a capacity field of sixteen plus four emergencies, expected to worry Fontein Ruby, and in this race, punters have very rarely been wrong. Since 2001, nine favourite have won the race and no filly has been successful at double figure odds during that time.
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1. FENWAY – B Shinn (6)
The High Chaparral filly hasn’t raced since she won the G1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m), when holding off the late challenge of First Seal, at Rosehill a month ago. She was given a peach of a ride by Shinn in that race and he’ll be able to put her in the box seat again from six. Yet to finish worse than fourth in her six career starts, most of those runs in top filly’s races, and despite the month off, will rate as one of the leader contenders.
2. FONTEIN RUBY – M Zahra (2)
Tough front-running filly who made it back to back wins last start in the Listed Golden Reef (1600m) at Caulfield a fortnight ago. Found plenty late last start when challenged to record a comfortable win in the end (1.8 lengths).
Looks set for the 2000m now, this being her sixth run in, and won the G3 Caulfield Classic over this trip last spring defeating Crafty. From the perfect draw given her racing style, should be in this for a long way.
3. DELICACY – P Hall (11)
Winner of her last four starts including the Western Australian Oaks and Derby, both over 2400m, the daughter of Al Maher cannot be in better shape for her first trip outside of Perth. She started odds-on favourite in both of the above races and got the job in good style on each occasion. No surprise to see her well in contention according to the markets ($7.50)
4. WINE TALES – H Bowman (8)
Chris Waller’s filly held her ground behind Candelara (3rd in the ATC Oaks) when sixth (8.5 lengths) in the G3 Adrian Knox (2000m) before chasing home the in-form Hi World last start, finishing second (1.5 lengths) in the G3 Frank Packer Plate (2000m). Good effort against the boys and a dry surface would be favourable to her than that of the wet tracks she encountered in Sydney recently. Bowman has an exceptional record in 3yo staying features.
5. JURASOUND – M Walker (1)
The Hayes/Dabernig trained galloper contested the Listed Gold Reef Stakes (1600m) at her last start, three weeks after recording a strong win (3 lengths) in the Mornington Guineas (1600m). She loomed up to leader and eventual winner Fontein Ruby last start with a furlong to go but wasn’t able to match her over the final stages, finishing second (1.8 lengths). Improving type who’ll get a cheap run and her chance from the inside draw.
6. FITOCRACY – T Pannell (10)
Got a long way back in the Listed Mittys Laelia Stakes (1600m) two starts back and doing her best work late in finishing seventh (4.3 lengths) to Ondina before contesting, as a $31 chance, the Auraria Stakes (1800m). Finished well from a midfield position last start to arrive on the line and narrowly defeat Kansas Sunflower. That was her first start beyond 1600m and doubt the 2000m will hold any fears for her but she does meet some smart types here.
7. SEA SPRAY – N Hall (13)
John Moloney’s filly looked set to record her third career starts at the 300m mark of her most recent start at Flemington, getting the split after a perfect run behind the speed, but she was collared late by Kansas Sunflower – who has since run a narrow second in the G3 Auraria Stakes (1800m). Had every chance last start and whilst there was a gap to third and the winner has performed well, she’ll find this no easier from a wide draw and stronger quality of field.
8. KASAS SUNFLOWER – C Symons (20)
The grey filly went within a lip of making it three wins from her past four starts when caught on the line by Fitocracy in the G3 Auraria Stakes (1800m) recently. It continues the solid form of the daughter of Mastercraftsman who is yet to run worse than fifth in her nine starts, however this is clearly the toughest race she has lined up in and the challenge hasn’t been made any easier with a horror draw.
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9. UNGRATEFUL ELLEN – C Williams (17)
The back-maker had favourite backers sweating it out on the track and then in the Steward’s room last start before being declared the official winner of the BM 70 (1600m) at Bendigo, defeating Spur Of Gold by a head. Faces a much tougher task here and can’t afford to, as she has done in a few of her recent starts, to do anything wrong in the run if she’s going to run this stronger field down. Main target is the SA Oaks over a further 500m in a fortnight’s time.
10. LADY SHARAPOVA – D Dunn (7)
Still only the one win from nine starts for this Fastnet Rock filly from the Hawkes Racing yard and although running third at her most recent outing, the Adelaide Guineas, she was still over five lengths from the winner Jim’s Journey. Hard to see how on current form, she finds the necessary improvement to figure here.
11. NOT A HAPPY CAMPER – D Tourneur (5)
Doing her best work late when fifth (3.8 lengths) behind Kansas Sunflower over a mile at Flemington two starts back before surprisingly, being taken to the front in a BM 84 (1600m) at her following race. She knocked up on the slow track to finish seventh (4.3 lengths) to Chiquada. Better when she’s ridden more quietly and they’ll be able to do that from gate five however, still finding it hard to win races of easier grade than this and unlikely to worry the leading chances.
12. REDASUN – S Arnold (18)
Finished well off a month’s break to claim a BM 64 (1600m) at Sandown two starts back, before sticking on well enough against tougher competition in the G3 Auraria Stakes (1800m) when fifth (5.3 lengths) behind Fitocracy. Better for the experience over a bit of ground last time out but will find this no easier, especially when jumping from such a wide draw.
13. CHOIX DE MAIA – R McLeod (19)
Victorian trainer Pat Carey took his Choisir filly to Sydney for the G3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m), where she finished a distant eighth (12 lengths) before making the trek to Adelaide and the G3 Auraria Stakes (1800m). Settled well back and was posted wide but was still able to make good ground down the outside late to finish third (2.4 lengths). Likely to be faced with another torrid run here too given she has drawn nineteen and meets a tougher field and would be better suited in the SA Oaks (2500m) in a fortnight’s time.
14. BAHAMAS – D Oliver (3)
A Teofilo filly that continues to show good improvement with each one of her outings, the most recent of which saw her close well late over a mile to finish third (1.7 lengths) behind Kansas Sunflower at Flemington. Gets a good draw and the services of Oliver so would expect her to improve again off of her last run but maybe not enough to win at G1 level. Each-way the best option.
15. CATHY’S MARK – J Winks (4)
Weaved her way through the field from last to place fourth (4.6 lengths) in the G3 Auraria Stakes (1800m) behind Kansas Sunflower last start. That followed a similar finishing effort when third (2.2 lengths) to Ondina in the Listed Laelia Stakes (1600m) at her previous start. Doubt the trip poses any problems for the Domesday filly but against a smarter bunch, will have her work cut out for her running them down.
16. HIPSTER GIRL – B Melham (15)
Maiden ten starts into her career and it’s near on impossible to see her break that status here given last start she ran sixteenth in a field of eighteen runners, twenty lengths behind the winner Fitocracy.
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17. TRY YOUR BEST – M Neilson (14) (1st Em)
Solid effort two starts back from the Phillip Stokes trained runner, finishing fifth (3 lengths) in the Laelia Stakes (1600m) but a further step up in class and soft conditions saw her struggle at her next start, the Auraria Stakes (1800m). Likely to struggler here as well should see sneak a run.
18. COACHELLA – D Tourneur (12) (2nd EM)
Posted deep for most of the trip when sixth (3.7 lengths) in the Laelia Stakes (1600m) before whacking away for seventh (5.5 lengths) in the Auraria Stakes (1800m) behind Fitocracy. Finding herself a few lengths of the pace in races easier than this and will start big odds if she lines up.
19. RATHER HEROIC – B Rawiller (9) (3rd EM)
The Street Boss filly made it two wins from six starts with a head win over Holy Fire at Ballarat in a BM 64 (1600m). Still learning and there will be more wins in store for her but wouldn’t think a race of this calibre is one of them at this stage of her career.
20. REGAL MAGNUS – (16) (4th EM)
Stuck on better than her $26 quote suggested she would when fourth (2.4 lengths) in the Laelia Stakes (1600m) before just holding her ground in a RST 78 (1600m) on a slow rated track at Morphettville three weeks later. Not here.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Wouldn’t think any of the top four runners, all of whom have drawn reasonably well, will be too from the pace and hard to see the winner of the race not coming from one of them. Fontein Ruby can either lead or box-seat from gate two and she proves extremely tough to run past, always finding plenty when challenged. Wine Tales could be the improver here especially on a firmer surface. Form out of each of her last two starts – which have been on slow tracks, has stood up well. Fenway hasn’t run a bad race yet and won’t start to here. Best value chance, Bahamas and Cathy’s Mark.
1. FONTEIN RUBY
2. WINE TALES