Orchestral Out To Continue Oaks Legacy At Randwick

Orchestral will aim to follow in the footsteps of some of New Zealand’s greatest fillies when she contests Saturday’s A$1 million Gr.1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick.

Kiwi-bred fillies have a rich history in the time-honoured classic, boasting seven wins since 2009, including 11-time Group One winning heroine Verry Elleegant (2019), and two-time New Zealand Horse Of The Year Bonneval (2017).

Last year’s winner Pennyweka joined the elusive list with a comprehensive performance for Opaki’s Jim Wallace, a title Roger James and Robert Wellwood hope to keep on this side of the Tasman with Orchestral.

The daughter of Savabeel has been a marvel for the Cambridge trainers this year, establishing a five-race winning streak with victories in the $1.5 million Karaka Millions 3YO (1600m), Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) and the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m).

Orchestral’s Sydney campaign commenced with the Gr.1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Randwick a fortnight ago, and the filly justified her $1.50 favouritism with a brave effort to down Oaks rivals Tutta La Vita and Zardozi.

Wellwood is looking forward to stepping Orchestral back out to 2400m on Saturday where she currently sits the $1.65 favourite ahead of Zardozi ($4.50).

“It’s all been pretty easy, she’s in lovely order and has come through the Vinery very well. She’s done everything we’ve asked of her,” he said.

“Especially due to the fact that she’d already gone a mile and a half, it was a really good effort coming back in distance in the Vinery. Going back up to the 2400m is really going to suit her at this stage of her preparation.”

James McDonald will retain the ride aboard Orchestral, with the filly drawing barrier three outside of fellow Kiwi and Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) winner Quintessa and Opie Bosson.

“James came and galloped her on Sunday and Tuesday and was very happy with her work, so she’s ticked every box and is spot on for Saturday,” Wellwood said.

“Hopefully she’ll be just ahead of midfield, over further distance she should be able to travel a bit more comfortably, as it’ll be a bit more slowly run in a small field.”

Wellwood has collected three elite-level victories in Australia since joining champion trainer James in partnership in 2017 and said an Oaks win would rate highly in his short period at the helm.

“My first Group One over there was Pinarello’s Derby (Gr.1 Queensland Derby, 2400m) and it was pretty cool to tick that off, so to get another three-year-old classic in an Oaks would be great, especially over The Championships,” he said.

“Group Ones anywhere are hard to win, but especially in this carnival, so it would be very exciting. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Back home in New Zealand, Kingsclere will be represented by three runners over the Otaki (Saturday) and Te Rapa (Sunday) meetings, hoping to continue a strong start to the week, with Sweynesday successful at Ellerslie on Wednesday.

At similar odds to Orchestral, the son of Sweynesse was backed into $1.70 favouritism after finishing runner-up to the promising Tomodachi on debut, and rewarded his supporters with a comfortable half-length win in the maiden three-year-old 1200m event.

“I thought his run was very good, he’s a pretty smart horse,” Wellwood said.

“He ran well at his first start and the form was good, so he went into Wednesday’s race a deserving favourite, and delivered nicely.

“We may look to head to the Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (Gr.3, 1200m), but we have a few people interested in buying him, so we’ll see how the next week or so goes and work from there. He’s going to be a very nice horse looking to next season.”

Last-start winner Urban Myth is the stable’s sole representative at Otaki, engaged in the Vets On Riverbank Handicap (1400m).

“We’re really happy with him, he’s drawn wide (10) but if he can get a soft enough run, he should be there or thereabouts,” Wellwood said.

Charm Spirit gelding Itza Charmdeel completed his two-year-old season with a heavy-track success in the Listed Ryder Stakes (1200m) and resumes off a 225 day hiatus in the Sharrock Syndications 3YO (1200m) at Te Rapa.

“He did have a quite busy end of the two-year-old season through to spring, and he’s probably most effective on a track with some moisture in it, so he’s come back at the right time,” Wellwood said.

“We’ll look to step him out further this time in, how far I’m not sure, but we’ll go through the grades and hopefully be there for the autumn and winter racing, and possibly some of the early spring races.”

Embellish gelding Paragon broke through for a deserved maiden success last start at Tauherenikau, and will step-up to Rating 65 grade in the Laser Plumbing Hamilton East (1300m) under Warren Kennedy.

“He’s been good, he came through his last run well and his work has been really nice. He’s drawn well, and I think if he can put his best foot forward, he’ll be right in a race like this,” Wellwood said.

– NZ Racing Desk

Share this article