New Zealand fillies to stay the Queensland Oaks trip

The inclusion of Provocative in the Queensland Oaks gives the New Zealanders two leading chances to build on an already impressive record in the Group One race.

The Tony Pike-trained Provocative gained a start in Saturday’s 2400m-Classic as the first emergency with the scratching of Adelaide filly Beluga Blue because of injury.

In an open market, Provocative and Romantic Maid are at $9 behind Imposing Lass ($7) Falkenberg ($7.50) and Dawnie Perfect ($9).

Since Romantic Maid’s trainer Roger James won the Oaks with Giovana in 2000, the kiwis have won with Ethereal, Vouvray, Eskimo Queen, Miss Keepsake, Scarlett Lady and Quintessential.

James, who trains Romantic Maid for leading Queensland owner/breeder Judy Wanless, says the New Zealand industry is geared towards stayers and late blooming three-year-olds.

“I don’t think it’s so much that New Zealand trainers target the Queensland Oaks,” James said.

“Once you get to races past 2000 metres our breeding industry is more tuned to that than yours. It is as simple as we breed more stayers.”

James said New Zealanders were also more likely to give their fillies time to mature and some were not ready to reach their potential until the autumn or winter.

The two kiwi fillies are cases in point.

Provocative made a winning debut on December 27 while Romantic Maid started even later with a win on February 24.

She has won a further two races, getting into the Oaks field when she scored at Randwick on May 18.

“I am very mindful of the fact this is her first preparation. Also I monitor her closely because she has done a fair bit of travel in the past few months,” James said.

“But she doesn’t appear to have taken any harm and she is a tough filly. On her work on Tuesday I would expect her to be more than competitive on Saturday.”

Sam Clipperton, who rode Romantic Maid when she won at Randwick, has retained the ride in the Oaks.

“He has been riding Group one winners and he is living up to the opinion that he would make a top class jockey,” James said.

Sydney-based New Zealander Bjorn Baker believes a better barrier will help Imposing Lass give him a second Group One win in successive weeks.

Baker, who won the Doomben 10,000 with Music Magnate last week, was far from disappointed with Imposing Lass’s last-start third in The Roses at Doomben two weeks ago.

“She was trapped deep from the wide barrier but she kept fighting in the straight like a true stayer,” he said.


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