Smerdon sweats on G1 Oakleigh Plate 2016 ballot

Robert Smerdon has hurdles to overcome if he’s to train back-to-back Oakleigh Plate winners.

Smerdon has to get Reldas into Saturday’s Group One race at Caulfield and then find a jockey who can ride the sprinter at 52kg.

Smerdon won last year’s feature sprint with Shamal Wind which defeated stablemate Under The Louvre.

Reldas sits at No.22 in the order of entry and the Oakleigh Plate has a capacity for 18 runners and four emergencies.

“He’s borderline but if he makes the cut he’ll go around for sure,” Smerdon said.

“He’s a run-on sprinter down in the weights and it’s a race that suits those types of horses.”

After finishing second to Tuscan Sling in the Christmas Stakes at Caulfield in December, Reldas had a freshen before running sixth over 1000m at the same track on February 6.

“I thought his run last time was good and his work has been good so if he gets in and draws a barrier we’re running because he can be competitive,” Smerdon said.

With 52kg Smerdon said it was difficult to find a jockey – and it was even tougher for those weighted below Reldas.

He said the weight was outside the range at which jockeys normally ride throughout the year.

“If you’re riding 51 or 52 all year round you can get down to 50, but not if they stabilise at 54 or 55,” he said.

Unbeaten three-year-old Popovich lines up in the Group Three Zeditave Stakes after his proposed trip to Hong Kong has been put on hold.

Smerdon said the two-time Sandown winner didn’t get through the veterinary examination to go to Hong Kong.

“He had a little issue,” Smerdon said.

He said the gelding was coming back to 1200m after winning over 1300m earlier in the month.

“It’s a big step up first time around and we’ve raised the bar but he still seems on his game,” Smerdon said.”

According to Smerdon, quality mare Politeness is to run in the Mannerism Stakes instead of the Group One Futurity Stakes on Saturday.


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