The grey flash Chautauqua is a notable omission from the final field for the 2018 Group 1 $500,000 Ladbrokes Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Team Hawkes has decided against running Chautauqua this week and is likely to kick off his 2018 Autumn Campaign in the Group 1 $500,000 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick on March 10 as he prepares to win his fourth successive Group 1 $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 7, day one of The Championships.
A capacity field of eighteen sprinters plus two emergencies make up the final field for the Oakleigh Plate with 2016 winner Flamberge having to carry the top weight of 57kg after the weights were raised 1.5kg following the non acceptance of Chautauqua.
The Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra trained Flamberge, one of four runners for the stable, has drawn around the middle of the field at barrier eight with Damian Lane to ride.
Flamberge’s stablemate Booker has drawn out wide at sixteen, but could move in two spots with both the emergencies drawing single digit barriers and the three year old filly with only 51.5kg on her back will be ridden by apprentice Ben Thompson, replacing heavy weight jockey Dwayne Dunn who was aboard for her first up all the way win in the Group 3 $150,000 Kevin Hayes Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 10.
Ellerton aand Zahra will also saddle up up Sword Of Light (Katelyn Mallyon, barrier 7) and Rock ‘N’ Gold (Damien Thornton, barrier fourteen).
Booker is not the only three year old filly taking on the older horses in the Oakleigh Plate and will be joined by last year’s Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes winner Catchy and last year’s Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign.
Catchy has drawn barrier nine with Craig Williams to ride while She Will Reign has drawn a horror gate at seventeen in the original draw with Ben Melham to ride.
The Gary Portelli trained She Will Reign has already beaten the older sprinters at Group 1 level when she came from near the tail of the field to win the $500,000 Charter Keck Cramer Moir Stakes (1000m) at The Valley during the 2017 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
The Lindsay Park Team of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig will saddle up three runners and as well as Catchy, have last year’s Oakleigh Plate winner Sheidel and the handy Star Witness mare Fuhryk.
Stephen Baster rides Fuhryk from barrier six while Damien Oliver will be on Sheidel who drew just worse than midfield at twelve.
Darren Weir has one runner in the top eighteen, Hellbent with Damian Lane to ride from barrier ten and the leading Victorian trainer will also supply the two emergencies, Quilista (barrier 4) and Olivier (barrier 1).
The Team Snowden trained Russian Revolution has drawn in the middle of the pack at eleven with Mark Zahra getting the mount again after partnering the four year old in their win in the Group 2 $200,000 Mitty’s McEwen Stakes (1000m) at The Valley in September.