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The Group 1 Oakleigh Plate, this year to be run at Sandown Lakeside Racecourse, is one of the absolute highlights on the Australian racing calendar year in year out. The 1100m handicap combines both speed and stamina, as it is customarily run at a breakneck speed and this Saturday a full field of sixteen, plus four emergencies, are set to do battle for the $450,000 winners cheque and of course, Group 1 glory.
After a quick glance at the final field, there’s no surprise the bookies are having a tough time sorting out the market. The speedy, Asfoora, is currently clinging onto favouritism with Dabble at $5.00, ahead of Sydney-sider, I Am Me, at $6.50. Chain Of Lightning is next best at $7.50 and King Of Sparta rounds out those under double figures at $9.00 along with Star Patrol.
As we know, anything can happen in horse racing and this is probably the toughest Group 1 of the year for punters. So, we have dissected each of the horses’ chances for you and provided our horse racing tips! Read on below to find our runner by runner preview of the 2023 Oakleigh Plate along with The Shark’s best tips.
1. Roch ‘N’ Horse (10) – $31
Jockey – Jamie Mott 58kg
Trainer – Michael Moroney
Scratched from the Group 1 Lightning Stakes last Saturday after a minor setback. Chased home Bella Nipotina first up last prep before going onto win the Group 1 VRC Classic prior to a break. Has to carry a big impost here but is a quality mare who may have been overlooked in the market.
2. Lombardo (8) – $41
Jockey – Dean Yendall 57kg
Trainer – Mick Price & Michael Kent Jnr
Group 1 Goodwood winner who was sent to the spelling paddock after going amiss at his only run last prep. Has jumped out well leading into this but may find them a bit sharp after such a long time off the scene.
3. Masked Crusader (16) – $23
Jockey – Ben Melham 57kg
Trainer – Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes
Full field plus four emergencies for the Oakleigh Plate. Feel like straight line speed is going to be key, given the second winning post.
Who have you got on top? pic.twitter.com/Od7h1zFQQh
— Damien Ractliffe (@DamienRactliffe) February 21, 2023
Talented sprinter who resumes here off the back of some nice Flemington jump outs. Finished 3L behind Nature Strip fresh last prep but hasn’t been sighted in the winners stall since October 2021. Will more than likely get a long way back here and can finish off hard, but is hard to back with any confidence.
4. The Astrologist (13) – $41
Jockey – Blake Shinn 56.5kg
Trainer – Leon & Troy Corstens
Had zero luck in the Group 1 Winterbottom before making amends in the Group 3 Gold Rush at Ascot last start over 1400m. Recent jump outs have been sound but this may be short of his best, despite being a two time winner at 1100m. Not the worst but can’t have in the numbers.
5. King Of Sparta (3) – $9.00
Jockey – John Allen 55.5kg
Trainer – Peter & Paul Snowden
Super win two back in the MM Falvelon at Doomben before demolishing a smart field in the MM Sprint last start. Comes into this off the back of a short freshen but has trialled in the meantime to keep him ticking over. This is tougher than his recent outings but has a dynamite turn of foot and can win with luck.
6. Zoustyle (20) – $26
Jockey – Ethan Brown 55kg
Trainer – Tony Gollan
Nippy Queensland trained galloper who placed in all four of his starts over the Spring, including a third in the Group 1 Moir Stakes behind Coolangatta. Will be ridden with the intention of crossing from the carpark draw and always gives 110% but may be found wanting late.
7. Marine One (5) – $23
Jockey – Harry Coffey 54kg
Trainer – Ciaron Maher & David Eustace
Resumed from a twelve month spell in the Rubiton Stakes a fortnight ago, where he loomed up to win and was only found wanting late. Will strip fitter for that run and drops 5kg here. Should get a nice run behind the speed from the gate and looks a genuine winning chance.
8. Uncommon James (14) – $10
Jockey – Ben Thompson 53.5kg
Trainer – Steven O’Dea & Matthew Hoysted
Hit the front at the 150 first up in the Rubiton only to be run down late by Lofty Strike. Should be improved by that run and is unbeaten second up. Another who will appreciate a significant weight drop and can win with a bit of luck in running.
9. Asfoora (6) – $5.00F
Jockey – Jye McNeil 53kg
Trainer – Henry Dwyer
Speedy mare who has a brilliant record, winning six from eight, including the Group 2 Caulfield Sprint last prep. Jump outs heading into this have been good and she’s fared well from the barrier draw. This is no doubt her toughest test to date but is a deserved favourite.
Only three more sleeps 😴
Asfoora 🎯 Oakleigh Plate 🚀 pic.twitter.com/q3YZ6mEc0b
— Henry Dwyer Racing (@HDwyerRacing) February 21, 2023
10. Lofty Strike (11) – $10
Jockey – Craig Newitt 53kg
Trainer – Julius Sandhu
Came from the clouds to win the Group 2 Rubiton first up here at Sandown on the hillside track. Ran well in the Coolmore second up last prep and then was only beaten a length in the VRC Classic. Should enjoy the fast tempo in this and will be storming home again late in the race.
11. Chain Of Lightning (2) – $7.50
Jockey – Craig Williams 52.5kg
Trainer – Peter G Moody
Winner of six from nine who was very good first up without a lot of luck in the Rubiton. Unbeaten second up and gets Craig Williams in the saddle. The inside gate is the only query, as she might find herself buried back on the inside of runners. If she gets the breaks at the right time she’s a definite winning hope.
12. Shooting For Gold (4) – $41
Jockey – Jaden Lloyd (a) 52.5kg
Trainer – Steven O’Dea and Matthew Hoysted
Slowly away his past couple when chasing home King Of Sparta. Nice work in a recent Flemington jump out and goes well at this trip. Another who isn’t necessarily favoured by the inside draw and needs to find if he’s to turn the tables on King Of Sparta, let alone a few of the others here.
13. I Am Me (1) – $6.50
Jockey – Jamie Kah 52kg
Trainer – Ciaron Maher & David Eustace
In form mare who has put four wins on the board at her past four starts. Will push forward from the inside gate and has no weight on her back. Has been well found in the market but deserves a crack at a race like this. Contender.
14. Mileva (7) – $51
Jockey – Dean Holland 52kg
Trainer – Phillip Stokes
Resumes here off the back of three jump outs and has looked sharp in each one of them. Winner of four from five first up, her only defeat coming first up last prep, when she ran Bella Nipotina to a neck at Moonee Valley. Might be a length or two off some of these but is suited in a race like this. Place hope.
I know I’m only 34 and have short term memory loss when the wife asks how many losing bets I’ve had, but I can’t remember a better Oakleigh Plate field than this year. If it doesn’t get you out of bed rock hard on Saturday morning and glued to the tv until race 9, nothing will.
— Golden Paddy (@Golden_Paddy_) February 22, 2023
15. Star Patrol (9) – $9.00
Jockey – Michael Dee 52kg
Trainer – Clinton McDonald
Sat behind the leaders first up at Sandown Hillside and was far too good in the run to the line. Has been back to the jump outs since, where he hit the line nicely in a hot heat. Maps ok from the middle draw and cannot be overlooked.
16. Zapateo (12) – $19
Jockey – Daniel Moor 52kg
Trainer – James Cummings
Resumes here off the back of a fast finishing fourth to Asfoora at Flemington last prep. Recent trials in Sydney have been promising and is another with a very good first up record. Tempo should suit and she should be strong late.
17e. Shamino (15) – $81
Jockey – Kayla Crowther 52kg
Trainer – Phillip Stokes
Chased home the in-form Jigsaw two back before a good win at Morphettville last start. This is a lot tougher but is capable of finishing off into a minor prize money position.
18e. Oxley Road (18) – $126
Jockey – Patrick Moloney 52kg
Trainer – Peter G Moody
Led first up in the Rubiton and faded badly to be beaten by all bar the ambulance. Gets winkers on for the first time here but doubt that’s going to be enough. Not keen.
19e. Triple Missile (19) – $51
Jockey – N/A 52kg
Trainer – Lindsey Smith
Got back and made some good late ground in the Rubiton first up, running some nice final sectionals. Two time winner second up but drawn the carpark and will find it hard to stay in touch early.
I Am Me and Chain of Lightning trained by Maher/Eustace and Peter Moody respectively, look to be major players in Saturday’s Oakleigh plate at Sandown. 🏆
Will it be one of them to get their main share of the $750,000 prizepool? 💰 pic.twitter.com/P6cPHjtXu5
— Unibet Australia (@UNIBETAustralia) February 23, 2023
20e. Bless Her (17) – $126
Jockey – N/A 52kg
Trainer – Clayton Douglas
Resumes off the back of some nice jump outs. Winner of only one from six first up and is yet to win on dry ground. Others look stronger.
Despite being an absolute cracker of a race, this year’s Group 1 Oakleigh Plate is a punters nightmare. It’s near impossible to do a speed map, but one thing is certain, they’re going to go like scalded cats.
Feel there is a couple of runners at good odds here that you can have an each-way bet on with a bit of confidence. The first of those is the Godolphin trained Zapateo.
She resumes here off an 11 week let-up and has looked very good in a couple of strong Sydney barrier trials. She won the Group 3 How Now last prep in good style, beating Chain Of Fire comfortably, before coming from the clouds and running Asfoora to 1.5L down the straight at Flemington. She has an explosive turn of foot on her day and should get a good run, midfield with cover. Fresh record is super and with 52kg on her back, will be a big threat late.
The other runner that looks well over the odds is Marine One. He resumed off a 12 month spell in the Rubiton, where he was beaten just over a length by Lofty Strike. He loomed up to win the race at the furlong but ran out of gas late. He’ll strip fitter after that hitout, gets a significant weight drop here and should get a gun from from the good gate.
There’s an absolute host of winning chances outside these two in a race that will come down to luck in running. If Chain Of Fire gets the breaks from an inside gate she will be in the finish. She should’ve near won the Rubiton first up and is two from two second up.
No knock the fav Asfoora. She’s a smart mare with a brilliant record. Honourable mentions to King Of Sparta, Lofty Strike, Uncommon James, Star Patrol and I Am Me, all with winning hopes and good luck if you’re having a dabble on the race. Just be aware, blink and you’ll miss it!
Oakleigh Plate Tip
16. Zapateo – Each-way ($19/$5.50)
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*Odds correct at time of writing, courtesy of Dabble.