New favourite for AJC Australian Oaks
Late entry Miss Darcey has displaced Gallica as favourite for Saturday’s AJC Australian Oaks with barrier fortunes going the way of the Anthony Cummings-trained filly.
The Mick Price-trained Gallica drew gate 15 in the field of 18 plus four emergencies and slipped to $6.50 alongside Purple (barrier 14) with TAB Sportsbet, leaving Miss Darcey alone at the head of the market at $4.80 after she came up with the two alley.
Miss Darcey paid her way into the Oaks with a blistering performance in the Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) last Saturday which gave Cummings every indication the 2400 metres of the Classic would suit.
Before the Adrian Knox, Miss Darcey was an unlucky third behind Oaks rivals Allez Wonder and Above Perfection in the Keith Nolan Classic (1600m) at Kembla Grange on March 22.
She got the better of the Gai Waterhouse-trained Above Perfection by almost four lengths in the Adrian Knox.
"I’ve always had high hopes for her and the way she won the Adrian Knox indicates she will have no trouble with the distance," Cummings said.
Miss Darcey failed to win a race in three Melbourne starts in February-March but Cummings said the trip away had helped the filly mature.
"The trip to Melbourne did Miss Darcey the world of good," Cummings said.
"Although she didn’t win, she has matured and is now ready for the big races.
"And I’m pretty happy with Nothin’ Leica Cat as well."
Nothin’ Leica Cat, a $17 chance in the Oaks, ran third in the Adrian Knox.
Gallica won the Kewney Stakes from Gold Water in which Miss Darcey was unplaced, and then went to Adelaide to score a decisive win in the Australasian Oaks (2005m).
In her first Sydney appearance she finished third to Oaks equal second favourite Purple in the Vinery Stud Stakes on April 4, run on a heavy track.
Zapurple ($8) finished fourth in the Australasian Oaks and confirmed her staying ability with victory in the Group Three Fillies Classic (2500m) at Morphettville at her most recent start.
By Caryl Williamson