Arabian Gold was heavily backed in the lead-up to the 2014 Frank Packer Plate and justified the support of punters to score an impressive victory in the Group 3 event at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Damien Oliver was riding Arabian Gold for the first time in the Frank Packer Plate and settled the Dubawi filly in fifth position on the rail and weaved his way down the inside of the track in the final stages of the race to steer the three-year-old to her second straight win from Pheidon and Malice.
Trainer David Vandyke made the decision to save Arabian Gold for this race rather than step her up to 2400 metres for the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) last weekend and the Warwick Farm-based trainer was delighted to win the Frank Packer Plate for owner Nick Moraitis – who won this race with equine superstar Might And Power back in 1997.
“He (Nick Moraitis) has been fantastic and he has been with me through thick and thin over the recent six months,” Vandyke said.
“To win this race after Might And Power winning it for him just means so much, it is terrific.
“She has won three stakes races now and she had a big year last year and to come back and win two stakes races this prep is just testimony to Michael and my staff and everyone involved.
“I wasn’t going to go to the Oaks, I thought that we tried that distance in Melbourne, and if I was going to target the Oaks it would be in Brisbane.”
Oliver said that it wasn’t necessarily his plan to take up a position on the rail in the early stages of the race, but believes that it worked out well for Arabian Gold as the leaders did not set a quick tempo.
The in-form hoop was most impressed with the acceleration Arabian Gold showed when she was asked for an extra effort and said that the talented filly gave him the feel of a class animal.
“I really had my mind made up for me early,” Oliver said.
“She was travelling well and she went at a pretty leisurely tempo, so she had a good kick to offer when it came.
“When they have gone soft like that it is a bit easier to sprint along the fence.
“She has a good turn-of-foot, especially off a soft pace like that, and she really made use of her acceleration.”
Oliver has the chance to record another feature race win when he partners Veuvelicious in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) this afternoon.