There’s a reason it’s one of the most loved racing carnivals in Australia and this year’s Oakbank card is well and truly delivering the Easter goods with history to be made over the jumps and strong fields across the board. With one of the best Listed Hills Railway Stakes fields in years and plenty of quality runners in the Oakbank Cup, we’re in for a real treat on the track come Saturday.
Zed Em looks set to jump into the history books
Patrick Payne’s star jumper Zed Em is hoping to join an extremely exclusive club on Saturday by being only the seventh horse to go back to back in the time honoured Grand Eastern Steeplechase in its 143 year history.
The first horse to go back to back in the race was Darkie in 1877/78, then followed Doiran in 1918/19, Mt. Cooper in 1926/27, Colin Hayes’ Kooroshali in 1965/66, Light Hand in 1995/96 and most recently Payne’s own Lord of the Song in 2014/15.
Zed Em remains undefeated in four starts at Oakbank which includes last year’s Grand Eastern victory along with two Von Doussa titles. He’ll be partnered by star jumps jockey Steven Pateman who knows a thing or two about winning a Great Eastern. He has five to his name already and looks a great chance to make that six aboard Zed Em on Saturday.
The top four placegetters from the Von Doussa are all returning to try and claim the Grand Eastern along with the addition of Eric Musgrove’s Transcript and Tony Rosolini’s Undergroundfighter.
Undergroundfighter is an Oakbank veteran with five starts to his name here and two placings in the Great Eastern. He was runner up to Spying on You in 2017 and ran third to Zed Em in last year’s edition.
It looks like only bad luck can beat Zed Em on Saturday and while there will be plenty of support for the South Australian trained Spying on You, the Oakbank crowd should be witnessing history with Zed Em taking the feature race on the card.
Numbers the key to Railway success
The Listed Hills Railway Stakes always attracts a quality field and this year’s edition looks one of the best in recent years. Looking at the recent winners of the race, there is some interesting history behind the horses who have won this race in the past five years.
Firstly, you either want to be coming out of a Stakes race or have won your last start. The last two winners in Heart of a Lion and Riziz came out of the Listed Matrice Stakes, while the three winners prior won their last start in weaker grades. With that in mind, there are five horses coming out of Stakes races. They are Steel Frost, Heart of a Lion, Everyday Lady, Oamaru Owl and Zalmona while Despatch and Crown Fontein are the last start winners in the field.
Secondly, Barriers 8 & 10 have produced the last four winners of the race. The 2017 & 2018 winners jumped from Barrier 10 while the 2015 & 2016 winners jumped from Barrier 8. This bodes well for Tolstoy (Barrier 8) and Tiara Star (Barrier 10).
It’s going to be one for the ages with four Stakes winners in the field including last start Manihi Stakes winner Everyday Lady. Add to that the exciting up and comers in Crown Fontein and Equal Love, quality sprinters in Zalmona and Go The Journey and the Oakbank local Kabini, it’s going to be anyone’s race as they turn the corner and power down the hill.
McLean eying another prize catch in the Cup
Jarrod McLean looks a strong chance to go back to back in this year’s Oakbank Cup with his high quality galloper Prize Catch. McLean won last year’s race with Cougar Express and he saddles up Group 2 Perth Cup placegetter on Saturday. The five-year-old will be three runs into his preparation on Saturday and should be nearing peak fitness. He’ll have a lovely 3kg claim from apprentice Justin Huxtable which will help his chances immensely.
The Cup field runs deep with 2017 winning trainer Tony McEvoy accepting with his talented stayer Lynch Mob who won three on the trot earlier in the year while Listed winner Royal Rumble also takes his place in the field.
Chris Bieg’s Balaklava Cup winner Temps Voleur is starting to find some form of late while they will be plenty of support for the local hope Meli Melo who is trained on track by Barry Brook.