Trainer Luke Oliver has revealed that he expects jockey Ben Melham to push forward on Khutulun in the 2014 Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm on Saturday after the lightly-raced filly drew barrier 22 for the Group 1 event.
Khutulun was ridden forward when she took out the Routley’s Bakery Handicap (1600m) at Sandown on April 26 and when she finished third in the Simon Builders Handicap (2000m) at Caulfield on May 3 and Oliver told Sky Racing HQ that he sees no reason why the daughter of Soldier’s Tale will not take up a forward position in the Queensland Oaks this weekend.
“It is probably no surprise that she has drawn a bad barrier because she has pretty much drawn the outside in each of her runs and the only time that she drew a good barrier was when they wanted to go to the outside at Caulfield,” Oliver said.
“She has been used to that and we have been pushing forward to overcome it.
“We are pretty confident that she will run the trip strong and without thinking about it too much you would imagine that we would press forward.”
Khutulun was defeated by Queensland Derby contender Sonntag in the ALH Ground Handicap (2000m) at Caulfield on May 17, but was strong through the line and would have finished closer to the winner if she hadn’t been blocked for a run in the straight.
Oliver admits that Khutulun faces a significant step-up in class in the Queensland Oaks this weekend, but believes that the tough filly can give a good account of herself when she makes her debut at the highest level of racing.
“She has been a real iron horse and she always backs up very well,” Oliver said.
“She has never been outclassed in any of her runs and the times that she has been beaten she has probably been the unlucky runner in the race.
“The other day she got held up at the corner and she ended up running the second quickest last 200 for the entire meeting at Caulfield and that is a pretty good sign that she runs the trip out strongly.
“She goes up there in really good form.”
Khutulun is currently available at 2014 Queensland Oaks odds of $10 and is on the fourth line of betting behind Arabian Gold ($2.50), Tinto ($7.50) and Rock Diva ($8).