Trainer Peter Snowden expects Occitan to take plenty of improvement out of the Group 2 $175,000 Les Johnson Memorial Sweet Embrace Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday but is still anticipating a forward showing from the Street Cry filly.
Occitan gets her chance to work her way up the Golden Slipper market order with a good performance and join Snowden’s other top fancies in the Group 1 $3.5m Tooheys New Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill on April 5.
Snowden already has the Golden Slipper short priced favourite in Blue Diamond Stakes winner Earthquake ($2.80) as well as Memorial ($15) and Ghibellines ($21) prominent in the betting while Occitan is marked as a $101 chance.
Occitan scored on debut over 1000m on the Kensington track on November 23 and was sent for a break after finishing an unlucky seventh as favourite over the same course and distance on December 7.
Kerrin McEvoy is certain to take advantage of the good barrier draw (3) and have Occitan in the first half of the field and Snowden is expecting a forward showing first up.
“No doubt she will get good improvement from this race but the good draw is a big plus to her,” Snowden told the Sportsman.
“I don’t rate her quite as good as Memorial but she is capable of running well in that race.”
“Her first start was good and her second start she got buried away on the fence, she couldn’t get out.”
“She went out for a spell and come back in good order.”
Memorial has two wins from three starts and was beaten a quarter of a length last start when second to Alpha Miss over 1100m at Warwick Farm last Saturday.
Snowden was forced to take Occitan back to the farm last week for a private barrier trial after the Rosehill trials were cancelled because of wet weather.
‘She did have the benefit of that,” Snowden said.
Gai Waterhouse will saddle up the top fancy Twirl who is looking for her first win following a first up second to Rubick over 1000m at Randwick and a third as favourite to Mossfun in the Group 3 $150,000 Widden Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill on February 15.
Ladbrokes.com.au has installed Twirl a clear cut $2.40 favourite for the Sweet Embrace Stakes ahead of Press Report and Tetsuko at $5.50, Occitan at $8.50, Puzzle at $9 and Believe Yourself at $$9.50.