Classics Spring Into Shape at Flemington
Flemington’s Group 1 staying classics, the $2 million Penfolds Victoria Derby and the $1 million Kennedy Oaks, will gather momentum on Wednesday with the running of Spring Classics Preview Race Day.
The joint feature race for fillies, the Kennedy Oaks Preview (1800m), offers ballot exemption for the Kennedy Oaks and has attracted an intriguing field including Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien’s well-bred filly Blackcomb, who is raced in similar ownership to O’Brien’s 2019 Kennedy Oaks winner Miami Bound.
Gonnadancealot (Robbie Griffiths & Mathew de Kock) has already earned a guaranteed place in the Kennedy Oaks thanks to her victory in the Byerley Handicap in July and is an exciting prospect for her part-owner, English trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam who is the daughter of Lady Susan Renouf and Andrew Peacock. Current TAB favourite for this race is Barb Raider (Jerome Hunter) who hasn’t missed a placing in three career starts at Sandown, including victory in a three-year-old fillies BM70 handicap last start over 1600m.
The Penfolds Victoria Derby Preview (1800m) for colts and geldings offers a guaranteed place in this year’s Derby and will see Danny O’Brien accept with a trio of Derby hopefuls with Venting, Shabalala and Grinzinger King, the full brother to 2018 Victoria Derby winner Extra Brut. New Zealand visitor Rhinoceros is best known for his unusual name but could prove he’s a headline horse for more than one reason if he can win his way into the Penfolds Victoria Derby on Wednesday. Current TAB favourite is Footlights for the in-form Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young stable, who is lightly raced with stats of 2:1-1 and is certainly bred to get the Derby trip, being by Savabeel who also sired the stable’s 2011 Victoria Derby winner Sangster.
The Darley Spring Preview (900m) is the first race for two-year-olds for the new season and will see a precocious field of youngsters take to the track for the first time. The well-bred Godolphin colt Contemporary (James Cummings) who won a two-year-old jumpout at Flemington recently, and Eltanin (Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young), winner of Cranbourne jumpout earlier this month by a commanding distance, are of particular interest.
This is the fifth year that Spring Classics Preview Day will be held at Flemington Racecourse with the race day introduced in 2017 to provide a stepping-stone to spring features for horses in the Kennedy Oaks and Penfolds Victoria Derby.
The rare midweek meeting is intended to provide a valuable opportunity for progressive staying three-year-olds to step up their spring campaigns.
The eight-race program begins at 1:00pm with the last race at 5:05pm and racing fans can tune in from home via RSN and Racing.com.