Doncaster Mile equal-favourite Omei Sword is finally ready to kick off her 2017 Autumn Carnival campaign in the Group 2 $200,000 Theraces.com.au Surround Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Trainer Chris Waller had pencilled in the Group 3 $150,000 Australian Chinese Jockey Club Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on February 4 as Omei Sword’s Autumn pipe opener but the filly had to be scratched after she developed some muscle soreness.
Waller was hopeful to have Omei Sword fit to run in the Group 2 $200,000 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) that was scheduled to be on run at Randwick on February 11 but was postponed until the following Monday because of the extreme heat, but the master trainer was still not happy with her fitness.
An exhibition gallop during last Saturday’s Rosehill race meeting with Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle convinced Waller that the High Chaparral filly had overcome her muscle soreness and is ready to commence her Autumn campaign.
“She had a setback obviously. We gave her an exhibition gallop last Saturday. Kerrin McEvoy was very pleased and she ran a good time. Worked well on Tuesday,” Waller said.
Waller is not concerned about Omei Sword drawing barrier nine in the ten horse field and has put his trust in Hugh Bowman to give her a good run with cover.
“Nothing we do about it (barrier nine),” Waller said.
“Big horse just needs a little bit of cover and she will be right in the three wide line and see where she goes from there. Hugh Bowman rides.”
Omei Sword will be having her first start since running second to Astern in the Group 1 $1m De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill during the 2016 Sydney Spring Carnival which followed her win in the Group 2 $175,000 Alpha Flight Services Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.
Omei Sword is nominated for all the major races over ‘The Championships’ and is the $10 equal favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au with the John O’Shea trained Hauraki for the Group 1 $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick on April 1.
Waller will saddle up smart filly Foxplay and Flight Stakes runner up Sezanne in the Surrond Stakes.
Foxplay has also drawn wide and will have to jump from the outside gate with Tommy Berry in the saddle while Sezanne with Brenton Avdulla aboard has drawn around the middle of the field at barrier six.
Waller said that the step up in distance to 1400m will suit Foxplay after the filly ran home from the back but failed by a nose to pick up the winner and Surround Stakes rival Global Glamour in the Light Fingers Stakes.
“Barrier ten not ideal. Tough filly though, 1400m will suit. Her first up run was terrific and she has trained on well since. She is a good horse.”
Waller is hoping to see some improvement from Sezanne in the Surround Stakes after she disappointed first up when sixth as favourite in a 1350m BenchMark 76 Handicap at Rosehill on January 28.
“A touch disappointing first up. She raced against the older horses, had a big weight and it was a real hot day,” Waller said.
“She has worked well since, she will appreciate the 1400m and she is Group 1 placed.”
The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained dual Group 1 winner Global Glamour has been installed the $2.60 favourite for the Surround Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au with Omei Sword on the second line of betting at $4 just ahead of stablemate Foxplay at $5.