Barrier is no ill wind for sprinter
Luck of the draw: Barrier two will give jockey Ryan Maloney options on Shamal Wind in Saturday’s Oakleigh Plate. Photo: Sebastian CostanzoTrainer Robert Smerdon says the barrier drawn by his outstanding sprinting mare Shamal Wind for Saturday’s $400,000 Oakleigh Plate brings far more positives than it does negatives.
Shamal Wind (barrier two) is a $7.50 hope to win the race and Smerdon maintains that former champion jockey Roy Higgins’ belief about barriers is an appropriate one.
”Higgins said to me, ‘After you go past barrier one it just gets progressively worse from there on’, so having barrier two in an Oakleigh Plate or a maiden at Geelong is very much to your advantage,” Smerdon said.
”It means that your options for Saturday’s race increase and race-day tactics can vary because of the luxury of such a great inside draw.”
Shamal Wind returned devastating sectionals to score at Caulfield three weeks ago after coming from the rear of the field at the top of the straight, but the Caulfield trainer believes that his mare’s racing pattern is not one-dimensional.
”What barrier two means is that clearly we can look at being more handy or positive in the early stages and then again if we want to get back and run home again we can do that,” he said.
”In contrast, when you draw barrier 16 or 17 you are committed to either trying to rush over from the wide draw and run the risk of using up a lot of energy, or going back in the field and hoping that every little thing goes your way so you can be successful.”
Smerdon said the mare had had her share of bloodstock agents from Australia and overseas keen to negotiate the four-year-old’s sale. ”She’s by a well-performed European stallion from an American mare and while there has been a steady flow of interest in her we have not got to the stage of talking numbers as the connections are still happy to race her.
”I couldn’t be happier with her, she trialled well on Tuesday at Cranbourne so she hasn’t put a foot wrong in her lead-up to the race.”
While Saturday’s Oakleigh Plate will feature a field of 18 plus one emergency, Lankan Rupee remains the $3 favourite to win the group 1 encounter. Lankan Rupee drew barrier eight, a position that will suit the speedster.
Two former Melbourne Cup winners, Green Moon and Fiorente, will clash in the Peter Young Stakes, while three-year-old Eurozone did not pay up for the Futurity Stakes and will go straight into Saturday week’s Australian Guineas without another run.
Queensland sprinter Better Than Ready won’t be at Caulfield on Saturday for the Oakleigh Plate and instead will return home.
Better Than Ready had some shoeing issues in Melbourne this week with trainer Kelly Schweida deciding to abort the sprinter’s Melbourne autumn carnival.
”He pulled a shoe off and a bit of hoof earlier this preparation and the farrier suggested we use glue-on shoes on Saturday,” Schweida said.
”But I don’t think horses race well in glue-on shoes, let alone in group 1 races, so it’s better that he comes home.”
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