Fist of Fury looking for Plate knockout
A favourable comparison with his former top three-year-old Charge Forward combined with the advantage of a light weight have given Sydney trainer John O’Shea confidence about the favourite Fist Of Fury contesting the Oakleigh Plate at only his fourth race start.
O’Shea said Fist of Fury was comparable in ability to Charge Forward who had some mighty duels on the track with Fastnet Rock, winner of the the 2005 Oakleigh Plate as a three-year-old with 57kg.
Fist Of Fury has the minimum 52.5kg in Saturday’s Group One 1100-metre sprint at Caulfield.
“Charge Forward and Fastnet Rock were competitive and this horse is the equivalent of Charge Forward, if not a bit better,” O’Shea told radio station Sport 927.
“He’s a horse with a bit of quality and hopefully that will hold him in good stead.”
Charge Forward didn’t run in an Oakleigh Plate but regularly clashed with Fastnet Rock throughout his career, beating him in the San Domenico Stakes.
He also finished ahead of him in the 2004 Golden Slipper Stakes when they were second and fourth respectively to Dance Hero.
O’Shea said it was a daunting assignment against so many seasoned sprinters but Fist Of Fury would get his chance with a light weight in a capacity field of 18 and two emergencies.
“He’ll go in with some five kilos less than Fastnet Rock carried so he has to be in the mix,” O’Shea said.
Fist Of Fury has raced just three times and in modern times his inexperience only compares to that of the great sprinter Schillaci who won the 1992 Oakleigh Plate at his fifth run.
Fist Of Fury last raced on November 1 when Northern Meteor inflicted his only defeat by a half-length in the Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington.
He won his two other races in Sydney and last month showed he was as slick as ever when he shaded Northern Meteor in an 800m Randwick barrier trial.
“He has made good improvement from the spring,” O’Shea said.
“I am very happy with him.”
O’Shea got his wish when Fist Of Fury drew wide in gate 15 as 10 of the last 20 Oakleigh Plate winners have started from a double-figure barrier.
Three-year-olds have won the feature in three of the last four years and TAB Sportsbet has Fist Of Fury $4.40 favourite to add to the list and give his sire Hussonet consecutive wins after the success of Weekend Hussler last year.
Wilander ($7) and Fernandina ($17) are the other three-year-olds in this year’s field.
Scenic Blast is at $5.50 to emulate Fastnet Rock (2005), Schillaci (1992), Placid Ark (1987), Dual Choice (1971) and Citius (1966) as winners of the Lightning Stakes-Oakleigh Plate double in the same year.
By Robert Windmill