New Zealand fillies Rock Diva and Sancerre, bred in the purple for group 1 staying events, provide the dangers to hot favourite Arabian Gold in Saturday's Queensland Oaks.
Bloodline students are hardly enthusiastic about Arabian Gold, despite her class, being comfortable over the 2400 metres.
However, Rock Diva is a half-sister to Australian Derby winner Shamrocker, and Sancerre's dam, Vouvray, won the 2004 Queensland Oaks.
“I'm really happy with them so hopefully we'll have a good day," trainer Tony Pike told NZ Racing Desk.
Pike figures Rock Diva “can track home late”, be suited by Eagle Farm and is fitter for recent racing.
Rock Diva was beaten 4.8 lengths by Arabian Gold in the 2000-metre Roses at Doomben on May 17, but was having her first start for six weeks.
Alas, she has drawn wide so tempo is an issue, but not the ability of navigator Tye Angland, who has made an eyecatching return from Hong Kong, including a spectacular Canterbury fall on Wednesday.
Rock Diva has strong New Zealand staying credentials but Pike has taken Sancerre on an easier path to the Queensland Oaks.
"I couldn't be happier with her but it's a massive step up in class,” he commented regarding her lead-up campaign that has included Ipswich and Sunshine Coast successes.
“She's going to be a lot closer on the turn than Rock Diva and I think she'll run super,” Pike said.
Arabian Gold, whose dam Coablo didn’t win beyond 1400 metres, has been dynamic on rain-affected surfaces recently, albeit over shorter journeys. Obviously predicted showers would suit her as the official Eagle Farm going on Friday was good.
“The filly would be a good thing if not for the good track, and perhaps the trip,” Betfair’s astute Daniel Began pointed out, making her his “lay”.
“While she’s $2.50 with the bookies, Betfair punters have already matched $3 for limited volumes and I’ll oppose her at that price.”
Arabian Gold won last start on a Doomben surface that suited up front types that could take advantage of better ground near the rail, but she made her run out wide, accounting for Tinto, a major rival in the Oaks.
From the one gate, Blake Shinn should be able to cuddle her in the pack and save her acceleration.
Pedigree comes to the fore in major staying events but there can be exceptions.
Verdict: Arabian Gold 1, Rock Diva 2, Sancerre 3, Tinto 4.
Safeguard, a strong fancy in the Queensland Guineas, was a victim of the Doomben conditions last start.
Making his run out wide when the ground was better inside, Safeguard was beaten a length and half by the rails-hugging Havana, a major contender again, when fifth in the Fred Best.
Now with John O’Shea, Safeguard will have blinkers for the first time and strong opposition from stablemate Agadir, resuming after a spell with Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle.
Agadir has obviously been tuned for the engagement and the O’Shea pair, takes on Hucklebuck, regarded as one of Melbourne’s most promising sprinters in February.
Hucklebuck went too hard in front in the Fred Best, attempting to milk the conditions, but ran out of gas.
The emerging skill of apprentice Taylor Marshall will be put to the test on I’m Imposing in the Eremein Handicap at Rosehill.
I’m Imposing, a beaten favourite at his last two starts, will benefit from Marshall’s sweet hands and three-kilo claim.
Riding Zephyron, Marshall downed I’m Imposing (Jim Cassidy) in a tight finish over the Rosehill 2000 metres on May 10 and Zephron has scored subsequently.
I’m Imposing is coming back to 1900 metres, deemed a problem, but the opposition doesn’t look strong. Other top chances includse Keep Cool, which will be handled by the Hong Kong-bound Christian Reith, and Iggi Pop.
Verdict: I’m Imposing.
Leading trainer Chris Waller has produced another conundrum with seven acceptors still in the Octagonal at Rosehill, but they will be tested by Queenstown from the Gai Waterhouse stable.
Queenstown, gifted with a dash of class, has been given a two-barrier-trial foundation for his return.
Perhaps the latter part of his last campaign indicated Queenstown would suited by longer than 1400 metres, but his record over the journey is a win and second from two attempts.
The 12 launching pad could be seen as another hurdle but Queenstown has the services of James McDonald, who on the Racing And Sports jockey rating for the distance is 4.5 out of 5. Best of the opposition is Winona Costin (2.4).
Play The Exotics
Eagle Farm Parlay: Race 4 – (3) Single Style, Race 6 – (10) Agadir, Race 7 – (1) Arabian Gold, Race 8 – (12) Masthead.
Rosehill Quadrella: Race 5 – (2) Pitt Street, (4) Longshoreman, (7) Timeless Prince, Race 6 – (2) I’m Imposing, (4) Keep Cool, (5) Iggi Pop, Race 7 – (7) Kristy Lee, (12) Urgent Bells, (13) Pompidou, Race 8 – (10) Haussman, (12) Queenstown.
Best Box Trifecta: Eagle Farm – Race 6 – (2) Safeguard, (3) Hucklebuck, (10) Agidir.
Best Quinella: Doomben Race 7 – (1) Arabian Gold – (8) Rock Diva.
The story Arabian Gold can be exception to breeding rule in Queensland Oaks first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.