After last weekend’s Group 1 Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival sprint attracted a diminutive field, Saturday’s 2015 Oakleigh Plate looks a different story with 20 short distance hopefuls nominated for the Caulfield classic.
Last Saturday Lankan Rupee ran away with an emphatic two and three-quarter length victory over Brazen Beau in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington that attracted just six final acceptors.
This weekend on Blue Diamond Stakes Day the $400,000 Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) is the next feature race for sprinters and runs alongside two other Group 1s on the card.
Twenty early entries were taken by the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) for the latest edition of the Oakleigh Plate, the highest-rated of which is the Jason Warren-trained Bel Sprinter.
Winner of the Group 1 The Galaxy over this distance in Sydney back in March of 2013, the now seven-year-old son of Bel Sprinter went on that campaign to run a brave second to Lucky Nine in the Singapore Krisflyer International Sprint.
His more recent form however has been hit and miss and he hasn’t run since a seventh to Magnifisio in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) in Perth last November.
A host of class gallopers like Bel Sprinter are down to resume racing in the Oakleigh Plate including the likes of Earthquake, I’m All The Talk and Vain Queen.
The John O’Shea-trained Exceed And Excel filly Earthquake won the Blue Diamond Stakes on this day last autumn as a two-year-old and is after another feature race win 12 months on.
Her latest start was an eighth when beaten six lengths by subsequent Black Caviar Lightning Stakes runner-up Brazen Beau in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) on November 1.
She’s tipped to improve first-up however boasting an excellent record when resuming of two wins and a third from three starts.
Earthquake, who comes off back-to-back Cranbourne trial wins over 800m this summer, is also undefeated at Caulfield with three wins from as many starts at the track.
I’m All The Talk is another Sydney raider, the Stratum stallion from the Warwick Farm stables of Gary Portelli.
The four-year-old has had just the one Caulfield run when ninth to Miracles Of Life in the Group 2 Caulfield Sprint (1100m) last October but has been tracking well with two Warwick Farm trial wins leading up to his return.
Vain Queen meanwhile is a short distance specialist likely to sit near the top of the Oakleigh Plate markets if accepted, the John Sadler-trained daughter of Artie Schiller having won three from five over the 1100m.
Her latest run was a win in the Group 3 G.H. Mumm Stakes (1100m) at Flemington on November 6, the five-year-old having won two from three first-up.
As for those boasting the fitness advantage on Saturday, there are plenty coming off nice form including Adelaide raider Essay Raider who won over this distance back home on February 14, Robert Smerdon’s Listed W.J. Adams Stakes winner at Sandown on Australia Day Shamal Wind and the Robbie Griffiths-trained It Is Written coming off a black type victory at Moonee Valley from February 6.
Other notable Oakleigh Plate nominees include last start Group 2 Rubiton Stakes third placed Atmospherical, runner-up in that race won by gun sprinter Chautauqua Flamberge, Eloping who could miss the race in favour of a Group 3 run against her own age and sex on Friday night, and Fast ‘n’ Rocking.