Ace Brisbane-based hoop Damian Browne has snapped up a gun ride in the upcoming Queensland Oaks at Doomben Racecourse on May 30, booked to jump aboard the New Zealand visitor Platinum Witness in the fillies’ feature.
Browne won his first Queensland Oaks aboard the John Sargent-trained Quintessential at Eagle Farm in 2012, and has secured a ride this Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival in the Group 1 event to run at Doomben Racecourse at the end of the month.
Worth $500,000 in prize money, sponsored by Treasury Casino & Hotel and run over 2200m this year the Queensland Oaks drew 85 early entries at nomination stage last week.
Sydney’s master trainer Chris Waller, after his maiden win in the set weights showdown, trains the early two favourites in betting with Winx and Ballet Suite well fancied in the all-in markets.
Street Cry filly Winx has won four of her 10 starts to date and was last seen running second to Gust Of Wind in the Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 11.
Stablemate Ballet Suite is a daughter of High Chaparral who ran fourth to Fenway in Rosehill’s Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) in late March before her disappointing eighth in the ATC Oaks she’s tipped to improve on.
Ballet Suite was beaten nearly 16 lengths in Sydney’s edition of the Oaks, the filly unable to let down on the Soft (7) track in her maiden run over further than 2000m.
Occupying the third line of early Queensland Oaks betting is then Browne’s confirmed mount Platinum Witness, the daughter of California Dane prepared in Awapuni, New Zealand by Lisa Latta.
The Kiwi filly has won four of her 14 starts back home, including most recently the Group 3 Lowland Stakes (2100m) at Hastings on February 28 and most famously the Group 1 NZ 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton Park last November.
Her latest run was on March 14 at Trentham when runner-up, finishing only three quarters of a length off the winner Savaria in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m).
Her regular rider in New Zealand Daryl Bradley, who has ridden her in 11 of her 14 starts including all four of her victories so far, doesn’t travel over for the filly’s Queensland raid, instead relinquishing the Oaks ride to Browne who is looking forward to his first ride on her on May 23.
Latta will give her filly her Doomben debut in the $175,000 Group 2 The Roses (2000m) on Doomben 10,000 Day, a race which has produced all but one of the past 10 Queensland Oaks winners.
The latest filly to complete The Roses – Oaks double meanwhile was Graeme Rogerson’s Kiwi raider Scarlett Lady (2011) who debuted down under in the former before her Group 1 success with James McDonald in the saddle.
That form bodes well for Platinum Witness in Brisbane this winter, the New Zealand form holding up during a Queensland Oaks campaign a number of times in recent years.
Before The Roses, Latta confirmed a first-up run across the Tasman at Arawa Park this Saturday either in the Listed Rotorua Stakes (1400m) or over 1560m in a Rating 85 Handicap.
“It’s not really about the Listed race as it wouldn’t help her value any and I’ll be guided by the weather as to which race she runs in,” Latta told NZ Racing Desk.
“I’m really happy with her and she won a jump-out nicely a week ago here at Awapuni.”