Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh still has five fillies in contention for March’s Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham and will have a better line on two of them after racing at New Plymouth on Saturday.
Marsh will produce Elisa Carolina and Heart Of The Ocean in the Listed Fasttrack Insurance Oaks Prelude (1800m) at New Plymouth, the pair out to enhance their Classic prospects ahead of upcoming Oaks targets.
“Elisa Carolina is a nice, strong filly and I think the Oaks comes at the right time for her. She’s going really well and getting better all the time,” Marsh said.
“Heart Of The Ocean has plenty of ability but she’s still a bit immature so whether she’s ready for our Oaks or might be better off waiting for a race like the Queensland Oaks, we’ll just wait and see.”
TAB bookmakers are favouring Heart Of The Ocean, making her a $12 fifth favourite for Saturday’s race and a $21 for the New Zealand Oaks, while last-start Te Aroha maiden winner Elisa Carolina is a $41 outsider for the Oaks Prelude and at $51 for the Oaks.
Raced by Lib Petagna, Makfi filly Elisa Carolina has drawn out in barrier 12 and while the China Horse Club Racing Pty Ltd raced Tavistock filly Heart Of The Ocean has fared better with barrier two, Marsh said both would be allowed to find their feet in the early rush for positions.
“They’ll both settle off the speed. We want to give them their best chance to see out the 1800m and get them to settle nicely up over ground with a view to the Oaks,” he said.
TAB bookmakers have the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Bergamot, second in the Gr.2 Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie, as a $3.60 favourite for the Prelude ahead of stablemate Kabu at $4.60 and the unbeaten Aloft at $4.80.
Marsh’s other three entries for the Oaks are Agey Babe, Celestial Nymph and Kaipaki Road.
Also at New Plymouth, Marsh is expecting a bold run from Master Park in the Energy Vets Taranaki 1200.
Further south, Marsh has three runners in stakes races at Wingatui, with Belle Fascino tackling the Gr.3 White Robe Lodge Weight-For-Age (1600m) and Charlie Awesome and Bronte Beach contesting the Listed Mediaworks Dunedin Guineas (1500m).
“The Guineas pair are both in good order. They went super races last time and I think they are right in contention down there.
“With Belle Fascino, there weren’t a lot of options for her so we’ve had a go at this. She’s drawn perfectly (2) and should get a lovely run from there and therefore get her chance, but a mile at weight-for-age for her at this point probably isn’t ideal.”
Bronte Beach is a $3.80 favourite for the Guineas after her last-start placing in the Listed Gore Guineas (1335m), while Charlie Awesome is a $7.50 fourth favourite after finishing sixth in the same race.
Belle Fascino is an equal $8 third favourite for the White Robe Lodge behind $2.20 favourite Who Dares Wins.
Marsh has six runners accepted for Matamata on Sunday – Agey Babe, Eridani, Glorious Ocean, Laurant, Metro Winner and Rippedeedoodah