Connections of Kiwi filly Full Of Spirit heeded the advice of jockey James McDonald and will pay a late entry fee to secure a start in the Group 1 $550,000 ATC Oaks (2400m) at Randwick on Saturday.
McDonald rode Full Of Spirit to an impressive victory in the Group 3 $125,000 Patinack Farm Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) at Randwick last Saturday and immediately recommended to the owners and trainer Roger James to start her in the Oaks.
“She’s a beautiful filly and I’m thankful for the owners for bringing her over, and that’s a good way to repay them,” McDonald said after her win on Saturday.
“She relaxed and then just got travelling a little bit and the run will just top her off nicely for the Oaks and she is going to be awfully hard to beat.”
Full Of Spirit is raced in the partnership of Haunui Blookstock and Hilton Mackley who will pay the $15,400 late entry fee before final acceptances tomorrow morning.
Haunui Farm’s General Manager Mark Chitty said they would push ahead with an Oaks start after the filly showed she was to the class with Saturday’s win.
“She won over a mile in the Manawatu on 31 March and the improvement we saw from her in that race was incredible.
“James McDonald rode her that day and was very impressed and full credit to him and Roger James as they convinced us to send her to Sydney to target this race off the back of that performance.
“She has always had the ability, we saw that on debut, but she has taken a few races to learn her trade but she is flying now. We are going to press on to the Group 1 Australian Oaks this weekend.”
Saturday’s win was Full Of Spirit’s third win from nine starts and her ability to handle the step up in class as well as her toughness after only arriving midweek from New Zealand impressed James.
“They ran it fast and she finished the race off well. You never know if they’ll get the 2400m until you try them but she gives every indication that she will,” James said.
“She’s pulled up brilliantly. I’ve brought over 100 horses across over the years and haven’t seen many that have settled in as well as her.”
James has had a mixed time this Autumn, winning with He’s Remarkable in the Group 3 $125,000 HSG Newcastle Newmarket (1400m) at Newcastle on March 21 before he finished down the track when sixteenth to Metal Bender in the Group 1 $400,000 Daily Telegraph George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on April 7.
And he has no luck with his New Zealand Derby winner Silent Achiever who was unlucky when she had to come wide when third to Laser Hawk in the Group 1 $500,000 Flinders Lane Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill on March 31 then made up some ground but couldn’t match it with the boys when sixth to Ethiopia in the Group 1 $1.5m David Jones Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick last Saturday.
But James now has a genuine chance in the Oaks if the Flying Spur filly can reproduce last Saturday’s win and handle the step up to 2400m.