2020 VRC Oaks Runner-by-Runner Preview
The third day of the Flemington carnival is headlined by the G1 VRC Oaks, with the three-year-old fillies doing battle over 2500m.
Favourite Montefilia has a stranglehold on betting markets and will be looking to add a third Group 1 win to her resume, but is she worth backing at $1.85?
Tim Geers has assessed the chances of every runner and offered his selections and betting strategy for Thursday’s feature race.
No sign of a designated leader here but I think that role might fall to (9) Star Of Eden. We might see (11) Vilanculos roll forward, with (8) Biarchi and (7) Tyche sitting third and fourth in the run. (13) Yatton can sit midfield on the rail, with a position for (12) Hard Squeeze potentially there to his outside. The favourite (1) Montefilia likely finds herself on the rail from barrier 5 and I think we’ll see (6) Miravalle on her outside from barrier 6. She is expected to settle further forward than what she did last start. (5) Salto Angel and (2) Personal might be worse than midfield, with the wide draw and extra distance potentially meaning a quieter ride for the latter. (14) Swindon, (10) Art Of Glass, (4) Succeed Indeed and (3) Café Rizu all draw wide and should go back.
The dominant favourite coming into the Oaks off back-to-back wins in the G1 Flight Stakes and G1 Spring Champion Stakes. She’s had three weeks off heading into this and as all the others are, steps up to 2500m for the first time. I think she’s a touch on the short side at $1.85, though I do concede she is quite clearly the horse to beat. The form out of the Flight Stakes and the Spring Champion Stakes is sketchy and I’m just not a fan of taking odds-on about a three-year-old filly tackling 2500m for the first time.
The Wakeful Stakes is a fairly reliable form line for this race, with four of the last eight winners of the Oaks coming through the race. Her run on Saturday behind Victoria Quay was sound, just beaten 0.3L, and her form behind Odeum in the Thousand Guineas prior to that was also very strong. We saw Odeum come out and be beaten the narrowest of margins in the Empire Rose Stakes, while Victoria Quay had form behind Ain’tnodeeldun in Adelaide, who then won at Flemington on Cup day. I expect a somewhat quieter ride from Oliver today with the wide gate and step up in distance. If you’re an each way punter, I’d be tipping you into taking $6.50/$2.00 for her rather than $1.85 for the favourite.
3. Café Rizu
Has been just plain in her three starts since putting two wins together back in July-August. She didn’t get a lot of luck in the Ethereal Stakes last start so an excuse could be made there, but she needs to improve.
4. Succeed Indeed
You could excuse her for her two efforts leading into the Wakeful Stakes on Saturday but she was soundly beaten by a few of these in that race, and she draws poorly in barrier 13 today. Blinkers go on first time but she would need to improve.
5. Salto Angel
Looks a roughie worth including. She placed in the Oaks Trial and then again in the Ethereal Stakes behind Chica Fuerte, before a fair run in Saturday’s Wakeful Stakes. We might see her a bit further forward from barrier 9 today and you can’t discount anything from this stable.
Was the eye-catching run in the Wakeful Stakes, flashing home late to run 4th. She was off the screen half way down the straight, which tells you just how far out of her ground she got in the race. From barrier 6 today, expect a much more positive ride in an attempt to have her close enough to strike, without overdoing it. She looks to be crying out for 2500m, however she was getting cleaned up by Montefilia in Sydney prior to running in Melbourne. Not hopeless at all but would probably need the favourite to run below par.
7. Tyche Goddess
Had a good run in the Wakeful Stakes on Saturday and battled on well to finish 3rd. Personal beat her home by 1.5L and even though she draws well in barrier 3, I can’t see how she would turn the tables on Personal. She should get a good run behind the leaders though and is a place chance once again.
Brings a totally different form line here with back-to-back wins in South Australia. There’s a lot to like about the way she’s going but her wins have been in maiden and BM58 grade, so this is a steep rise in class. Worth noting that trainer David Jolly has had two runners in Melbourne the last 12 months, both of which won. Draws to get a soft run on the rail behind the leaders and could be worth throwing in at $51.
9. Star Of Eden
Could be the leader of the race from barrier 2. She’s placed in all three career starts, basically finishing alongside Salto Angel in her past two, so if that horse is a roughie then this one must be as well. I don’t see her winning but she could be a place chance at 30/1.
10. Art Glass
Won her maiden at Geelong on heavy ground two starts ago but did nothing in the Ethereal Stakes last time out. Not good enough here.
Another at a big price that can be included in numbers. She ran well against the boys in the Geelong Classic last start and we saw the winner of that race – Confrontational – run well for 2nd on Saturday behind Ain’tnodeeldun on Tuesday. Should be on pace from barrier 7 and with the winkers on for the first time, isn’t hopeless at 30/1.
12. Hard Squeeze
Comes off a 5L win at Echuca in a maiden highweight race. Wasn’t disgraced in the Oaks Trial prior to that but won’t be good enough here.
Wasn’t far off in the Oaks Trial two starts ago but was well beaten in the Ethereal Stakes last time out. Better barrier draw here and the blinkers come off for the first time but would need to improve significantly.
14. Swindon Lass
Not beaten all the far in the Oaks Trial but was another that was well back in the Ethereal last start. Winkers go on for the first time but looks outclassed.
I concede (1) Montefilia is the filly to beat but at that price, I’m looking past her. Sticking with (2) Personal each way, who was narrowly beaten in the Wakeful Stakes last Saturday and had solid form prior to that. We’re getting a better price for her to place than we are for the favourite to win so that’s the way I’ll go. (6) Miravalle looks to be screaming out for 2500m and draws better today so can sit closer and give this a shake. (11) Vilanculos and (5) Salto Angel best of the roughies, particularly Vilanculos who brings sound form through the Geelong Classic, and if there is a $61 blowout it will be (8) Biarchi.
Value: (11) Vilanculos $31 Unibet
1 units WIN Personal, 0.5 units WIN Miravalle, 0.25 units WIN Vilanculos