The Weir trained filly tasted defeat for the first time this Spring when officially beaten 3.05 lengths and in 11th of the 16 runners in the Empire Rose Stakes. She found plenty of traffic in the run when ridden by Dean Yendall under the lightweight and will be ridden by Craig Williams for the Oaks. Given three starts as a 2YO, she was 4th on debut at Ballarat and then runner-up at her next two before being sent for a break. Returning at 3YO in a set weights maiden at Sale, Craig Williams was up and had the filly settled at the rear before launching a well-timed raid to score by 1.25 lengths over the 1200m trip. Second-up in a BM64 at the Flemington 1400m she again finished best to score by a half-length. With bigger targets in store, her next start in the Edward Manifold at the Flemington mile was a guide to her ability when scoring in great style. Taking on G1 company in the Thousand Guineas it looked a forlorn task at the 400m however she sprouted wings to score a narrow victory. Will the rise from the mile to 2500m in a week be too steep? Punters don’t think so.
The unusually bred NZ filly arrived with Darren Weir following a win at Matamata over 1400m on September 12. Her first Australian race start came in the G2 Edward Manifold where she was settled mid-field and was strong to the line at the end of the mile to finish 3rd when 2.5 lengths from the winner and stable-mate Amphitrite. Stepped out to the 2000m of the G3 Ethereal Stakes, the Zed filly was sent to the post a well-supported favourite and she didn’t let her supporters down when running through the line in good style to finish a half-length in front. On the traditional Oaks campaign of the Wakeful Stakes as a final hit-out, once again Verry Elleegant started favourite and settling a touch further back than her previous runs, she struggled to get in. Trying to find position she was wide for most of the trip and the effort told when the best she could manage was 3.55 lengths from the winner. Weir has added a nose roll for the Oaks in attempt to get the filly to settle and despite a tough gate out in 13, she has the X-Factor to prevail.
One of three entrants in the Oaks for Darren Weir as he chases a further piece of history as a victory will see Weir become the first trainer since Lee Freedman in 2005 to claim the big 3YO double of the VRC Derby and VRC Oaks in the same year. Zapurler has only raced on five occasions and only started her race career on September 5 this year at Ballarat, so it has been a steep curve for the filly, however she has shown at every stage as the distance increases she will be right at home. A strongly bred stayer by High Chaparral out of a Zabeel mare, Zapurler is a last start winner, breaking her maiden over 2124m at Echuca last start with Dean Holland taking the ride. Carrying 54kg at the set-weights scale of the race, she was ridden closer to the speed for the first time and was able to forge clear to score a 3.5 length victory. That Echuca win was the first time that she has started from a single digit barrier (2), with her first 4 career starts seeing the filly jump from gates 12, 10, 13 and 11. Jumping from gate 3 for the Oaks with Hugh Bowman up, is this the Weir runner you need to be on?
Outside of Amphitrite who is the race favourite, Aristia and Greysful Glamour are the only other two fillies that have a previous Flemington victory to boast. Showing staying potential early in her career, Aristia has progressed well once she started getting over more distance and the Lonhro filly will head to the Oaks in the right form to make a strong challenge for supremacy. Taking on the Edward Manifold at Flemington over the mile, Damian Lane took the filly back to the rear from a wide gate and was riding for luck that never eventuated, running into dead-ends and never getting a chance to test Aristia at any stage. From an inside gate in the G3 Ethereal Lane had the filly settled in the first six and then fanning on the home turn was four and five wide making her charge. Looming up and hitting the front Verry Elleegant came charging and grabbed a half-length victory. Sliding across from gate 10 in the Wakeful, Aristia appreciated the expanse of Flemington and wasn’t to be denied in scoring the G2 feature. Victory will see her become the first filly since Kirramosa in 2013 to claim the Oaks/Wakeful double.
The VRC Oaks is one of the oldest continual races on the Australian racing calendar, first run in 1861 when Palestine was successful. The race is run over 2500m and is referred to as Oaks Day, taking its place on the Thursday of the Flemington Spring Racing Carnival.
The Oaks is restricted to three year old fillies and is held at the conditions of set weights. In 2018 the weight is set to 55.5kg, with the race having always been held at Flemington. The race was originally held over 2400m or one mile and a half in the imperial scale and was lengthened to the current 2500m following safety concerns with the distance to the first turn.
In 2018 total prizemoney on offer is $1 million with the winner to receive $600,000. The 2017 winner was the Gai waterhouse & Adrian Bott trained Pinot, ridden by Stephen Baster. Other past winners include Jameka, Dear Demi, Miss Finland, Northwood Plume, Slight Chance, Surround and Light Fingers.
|Date:||Thursday 8th November 2018|
|Race Time:||16:00 AEDT|
|Race Type:||3YO Fillies Set Weights|
|Market:||2018 Crown Oaks Odds|