Saturday preview: six things to keep an eye on

10 min read
The G1 Queensland Oaks is this Saturday's focus, the race so famously won by future stars Ethereal (NZ) (Rhythm {USA}) and Winx (Street Cry {Ire}) always keenly contested - and this year is no exception. There is a good support card in place with black-type action at Randwick and Belmont as well.

Cover image courtesy of Trackside Photography

Headlining Saturday's action is the G1 Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm. Adding to the excitement, the G2 Moreton Cup and the Listed The Phoenix promise plenty of intrigue, ensuring a thrilling day of competition.

G1 Queensland Oaks - classy fillies

A race which has from its early days been won by fillies able to go on to even bigger and better things, the G1 Queensland Oaks has on its honour roll such talented campaigners as Evening Pearl (Delville Wood {GB}), Analie (NZ) (Sovereign Edition {Ire}), Denise's Joy (Seventh Hussar {Fr}), Surround (NZ) (Sovereign Edition {Ire}), Triscay (Marscay), Slight Chance (NZ) (Centaine), Arctic Scent (Blazing Sword), Ethereal (NZ) (Rhythm {USA}) and of course, Winx (Street Cry {Ire}).

First run in 1951 (firstly in spring and summer, shifting to winter in 1973) it has seen 15 of its winners go on to further Group 1 glory.

“First run in 1951 (firstly in spring and summer, shifting to winter in 1973) it has seen 15 of its winners go on to further Group 1 glory.”

It is also a race whose winners have fared extremely well at stud. Of its 51 winners to have been represented by at least a couple of foals, twenty have been represented by stakes winners with Denise's Joy the most influential Queensland Oaks winner - her daughter Joie Denise (Danehill {USA}) also winning the race en-route to producing two Group 1 winners - Sunday Joy (Sunday Silence {USA}) and Tuesday Joy (NZ) (Carnegie {Ire}).

Both Eskimo Queen (NZ) (Shinko King {Ire}) (dam of Dreamforce by Fastnet Rock) and Triscay (La Baraka by Euclase) also produced big race winners with the latter proving an outstanding matriarch.

It is a very nice group of fillies lining up to contest the Classic this weekend; and an even race it is too with four horses opening up at single figure odds - the G2 The Roses winner Scarlet Oak (Kermadec {NZ}), the G1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas winner Molly Bloom (NZ) (Ace High), the Listed VRC St Leger winner Ahuriri (NZ) (Almanzor {Fr}) and the promising Mare Of Mt Buller (Dundeel {NZ}) who was strong to the line when second in The Roses.

Molly Bloom | Image courtesy of Wexford Stables

Kind Words (Written Tycoon) has not been having much luck of late and will need a fair bit of it from barrier 23 - her trainer Kris Lees vying for consecutive successes having saddled up last year's winner Amokura whose sire Kermadec (NZ) is also a chance of another winner, represented by Scarlet Oak and the emergency Kenyada.

G2 Moreton Cup - trainers vying for further success

Robert Heathcote won this last year with Prince Of Boom (Spirit Of Boom) and is a chance to make it two in a row with The Big Goodbye (Host {Chi}) coming off a game Listed Chief De Beers S. second.

Prince Of Boom's in-form sire Spirit Of Boom also has two in a row-prospects with All That Pizzazz racing in great form. His trainer Tony Gollan won this race in 2021 and 2022 with Baller (High Chaparral {Ire}) and has another two chances this year - also saddling up I Am Invincible's sons Zarastro (who gave a good sight in the G3 BRC Sprint) and Nettuno who just didn't relish the heavy-going last time out.

Mazu (Maurice {Jpn}) will find this easier than the G1 Doomben 10,000 in which he was not far away after doing all the chasing. What You Need (Supido) is also coming off a solid performance in Group 1 company - doing his best work late in the Goodwood H.

The Big Goodbye | Image courtesy of Racing Queensland

There are only two last start winners contesting this sprint - Opal Ridge (Rubick) a top chance for the double having proven too good in the Listed Ortensia S. when resuming whilst Lekvarte (NZ) (Reliable Man {GB}) - winner of her last two at Group 3 level - resumes from a break with good fresh form.

Vilana (Hallowed Crown) is another leading contender, game in the run home in the BRC Sprint despite not having quite enough room.

Listed The Phoenix - juvenile guide to future success

First run as a Listed contest in 1987 (known for some time as the Doomben Slipper), this 1500 metres contest (up from 1400 metres) for the juveniles has been won by some very nice types with 20 of its winners going on to further black type success.

Such as the Group 1 winners Chortle, Boban (Bernardini {USA}), Drum (Marauding {NZ}), Shadow Hero (Pierro), Picaday (Piccolo {GB}), Show A Heart and Al Mansour (At Talaq {USA}).

“This (The Phoenix) 1500 metres contest (up from 1400 metres) for the juveniles has been won by some very nice types with 20 of its winners going on to further black type success.”

Canara (I Am Invincible) is still a maiden but a promising one and she was not in the best part of the track when third in the Listed Bill Carter S. late last month. Pee Bee Noir's (Churchill {Ire}) debut run in that same race was better than it looks on paper.

Four last start winners take their place including Aemelius (Hellbent) who looked good swamping her rivals from the rear at Randwick, Due Calzini (D'Argento) who won a Goulburn maiden with ease and Miss Trustful (Dubious) who led throughout at Beaudesert.

The latter two are joined by another two youngsters by first season sires - Safe Place (Castelvecchio) suited up in trip having been good at debut and Pulpit (Microphone) who has been slowly away at her last two starts.

Canara as a yearling | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

The only stakes winner in the race is Beau Dazzler (NZ) (Ardrossan) who struck severe interference in last weekend's G2 Sires Produce S.

Listed Queensland Day Stakes - James Cummings again?

The previous year's G1 TJ Smith Classic winner Reigning To Win (King Of Kings {Ire}) returned to Queensland to win the first running of this Listed 3-year-old contest in 2007 whilst the 2019 edition was taken out by Vega One (Lope De Vega {Ire}) who two years later recorded a barnstorming victory in the G1 Kingsford-Smith Cup.

The James Cummings stable boasts a good recent record in this race, taking out the last two runnings with Red Card (Ribchester {Ire}) and Athelric (Exceed And Excel) as well as the 2017 edition with Good Standing (Artie Schiller {USA}).

This year's Godolphin runner Inhibitions (Zoustar) is one of the leading contenders, kept fresh since a game on pace second at Eagle Farm having struggled on the heavy going in Group 3 company at Randwick at his previous start - before that a tough winner at Caulfield. James McDonald won this race last year and takes this ride.

Inhibitions | Image courtesy of Ashlea Brennan

Tony Gollan also knows how to win this race, successful with Setanta (Fastnet Rock) in 2021 and Vega One in 2019 and Kamacite (Northern Meteor) in 2016. He has two chances on Saturday - last year's R. Listed Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner Skirt The Law (Better Than Ready) who was an improver second up after pulling up lame first up and Rose Noir (Divine Prophet) with her three starts is the most lightly raced runner in the race.

Hedged (Capitalist) keeps racing well whilst Moravia (Snitzel) was close up at his first run as a gelding. Tiger Shark (Rich Enuff) has been great to the line winning two of her last three whilst Fortuneer (Rubick) impressed winning her first three before resenting the kick-back at Doomben last time out.

Randwick's Listed races - the Bob Charley AO Stakes and the Lord Mayors Cup

Randwick hosts two Listed events on Saturday, the Lord Mayors Cup - a 2000-metre handicap - and the Bob Charley AO S. - an 1100-metre handicap.

The eighth race on the card, the Lord Mayors Cup sees Waterford (Ire) (Awtaad {Ire}) and Sir Lucan (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) vying for favouritism. Seeking to continue the good recent run of imported gallopers in this race, they both come off game seconds in provincial features - Waterford going close in the Listed Scone Cup whilst Sir Lucan gave a bold sight in the Listed Gosford Cup.

Gallery: The eighth race on the card, the Lord Mayors Cup sees Waterford and Sir Lucan vying for favouritism

Sky Lab (Real Impact {Jpn}) was a surprise winner of the former but can go on with it here and Sibaaq (GB) (Dark Angel {Ire}) was an honest fourth in the same race.

Adding interest to the race is Star Of India (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) who races for the first time since taking out the Listed Rosehill Cup in October 2022 at his Australian debut. His trainer Annabel Neasham has won the last two runnings of this race with imports - the recent G1 Doomben Cup winner Bois D'Argent (GB) (Toronado {Ire}) and Hopeful (Fr) (Motivator {GB}).

The Waterhouse Bott stable meanwhile debut an import - Eliyass (Fr) (Le Havre {Ire}) boasting a great record of six wins from eight starts.

“Randwick hosts two Listed events on Saturday, the Lord Mayors Cup - a 2000-metre handicap - and the Bob Charley AO S. - an 1100-metre handicap.”

The next race on the programme is the Bob Charley AO S., another race which sees two horses punters are finding difficult to split - the last start Listed Takeover Target S. winner Semillion (Shalaa {Ire}) and the consistent last start Listed Ortensia S. placegetter Iowna Merc (Winning Rupert).

The new boys - good first season sire representation

We have already mentioned the first season sires represented in the Listed The Phoenix S. in Brisbane and there are seven other young horses with progeny contesting metropolitan races on Saturday.

Waikato Stud's G1 Caulfield Guineas winner Super Seth (two stakes winners amongst his first six winners) is one of a number of stallions making a nice start to their stud careers and he has two city runners - Supernima (NZ) looking a chance to remain undefeated in the opening event at Flemington whilst Super Rosa (NZ) is due a change of luck in the seventh at Ruakaka.

With his eight first crop winners, Newgate's Tassort is another horse on the up and he has two runners in the opening race at Randwick - Sacred Fort expected to be honest again whilst Shamadan created a big impression bolting in at her Murwillumbah debut.

Supernima (NZ) as a yearling | Image courtesy of New Zealand Bloodstock

Arrowfield's Castelvecchio (who has Safe Place in Brisbane) had his first winner during the week and off the back of excellent trial form, Il Passero is expected to run boldly at his debut at Randwick.

Another three first season stallions have runners at Flemington - Jenni's Meadow (Brutal {NZ}) suited up in trip, Wonder Boy (Cosmic Force) debuting off solid jump-out form and Grinzinger Pod (Calyx {GB}) heading to town off a nice debut victory at Bendigo.

Joining the Eagle Farm runner Due Calzini as a first crop runner for Bowness Stud's D'Argento is Teardrop Rotation who takes on the older horses in the first at Morphettville. Meanwhile in New Zealand Ten Sovereigns (Ire) has Top Dollar (NZ) looking to go one better whilst Westbury Stud's Ferrando (NZ) has Sky Max (NZ) in the mix.

The Six