Melbourne based jockey Mark Zahra will team up again with Robert Smerdon‘s dynamic filly Fontein Ruby in the Group 1 $600,000 Australasian Oaks (2000m) at Morphettville on Saturday.
Zahra missed Fontein Ruby’s last start win in the $250,000 Thoroughbred Breeders Victoria VOBIS Gold Reef (1600m) at Caulfield on April 18 because of suspension and had to watch as Nick Hall steered her to an all the way win.
But Zahra will be happy to get back aboard the Turffontein filly in the rich Group 1 for the fillies that is known these days as the Schweppes Oaks.
Zahra has been the regular rider for Fontein Ruby since her early days as a two year old and has ridden her ten of her seventeen starts for five wins.
Fontein Ruby was one of the better performed fillies during the 2014 Melbourne Spring Carnival when she combined with Zahra to win the Group 2 $200,000 TAB Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m) at Flemington and the Group 3 $750,000 Caulfield Classic (2000m) at Caulfield.
Zahra was back in form at Flemington on the weekend riding a winning double on Mr Utopia for Smerdon and My Poppette for Colin and Cindy Alderson.
Mr Utopia recored his ninth win from twenty-one starts winning the 1200m Benchmark 90 while My Poppette took out one of the feature races of the day with a one length victory in the Listed $120,000 Phillip Schuler Anzac Day Stakes (1400m) and has earned herself a shot at the Group 1 $1m Crown Oaks (2500m) at Flemington in the Spring.
Fontein Ruby is one of thirty-eight fillies nominated for the Australasian Oaks and will come up against Lee and Shannon Hope’s Group 1 winning filly Fenway.
Fenway claimed her first Group 1 trophy when she stormed home to win the $400,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 28.
But the High Chaparral filly was denied a chance of winning a second Group 1 when she had to be scratched from the $1m Seven News Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick on April 11 because of a foot abscess.
The well performed West Australian filly Delicacy won’t be out of place when she arrives in Adelaide for the Australasian Oaks after winning both the Group 3 $250,000 Relianace Partners W.A. Oaks (2400m) and the Group 2 $400,000 Schweppes W.A.T.C. Derby (2400m) at Ascot in Perth in the last month.
Fontein Ruby has been installed the early $3.40 favourite for the Schweppes Oaks with Ladbrokes.com.au ahead of Fenway at $6 and the Chris Waller pair of Ballet Suite and Wine Tales at $8 along with Cathy’s Mark.
Delicacy is on the next line of betting at $11 with Kansas Sunflower who was narrowly beaten by Schweppes Oaks rival Fitocracy ($19) in the Group 3 $115,000 Schweppervescence Stakes (1800m) at Morphettville on April 18.