Ethel to relish Oaks trip
A strong female line is expected to hold Ethel Maude in good stead when she contests the VRC Oaks at Flemington.
Ethel Maude may not have the sexy form lines of some of the other fillies engaged in the Group 1 VRC Oaks at Flemington, but her trainers are confident of one thing, she will stay the 2500m trip.
Pat Carey and Harris Walker will saddle Ether Maude in the Group 1 Classic at Flemington on Thursday with the filly coming off a last start win over 2000m at Pakenham on October 20.
That victory may have been in maiden grade, but it was against older horses and Ethel Maude raced away to a widening 3-¾ length win.
Ethel Maude is by a sprinting sire Smart Missile, a son of Fastnet Rock, who won his first three starts between 1000m and 1200m before being retired after finishing fifth in the Caulfield Guineas.
But Carey pointed out there was plenty of stoutness on the female side of Ethel Maude's pedigree which gives the co-trainer confidence the extra 500m won't pose a problem.
"If you go through the dam's pedigree, the second dam is a full sister to Gondokoro who we won the Queensland Oaks (in 2013) with," Carey said.
"She was a Zabeel mare, and she is a sister to Zabeelionaire who won a Derby, so it's a pretty strong family from a staying point of view.
"And those Oaks winning fillies have a habit of repeating themselves.
"From day one we always had our eyes focussed on running in the Oaks, even if it is a pathway to the autumn next year."
Ethel Maude will be having just her fifth start on Thursday and did not start racing until September.
Carey said the filly, before racing her, would have a little campaign, spend time in the paddock, before starting work again.
"This is her first prep and we've been able to micro-manage that by giving her short little breaks along the way," Carey said.
"Trevor has a magical property up at Lancefield and after some of her early runs we were able to sneak her up there and give her a little break, a little paddock time, which has enabled her to handle the whole preparation.
"She's had the preparation we wanted her to have.
"She's in great order, she's worked well leading into the race, and she looks like she will stay every inch of the journey."