The feature event, the Great Eastern Steeple – over the arduous 4950m journey – brings an enticing meeting between the two in-form jumpers, Zed Em and I’ll’ava’alf and their clash with last year’s winner Spying On You. Zed Em is a firm favourite on the strength of his effortless recent win in the 3250m Von Doussa Steeple at the famous Oakbank circuit, followed by a gutsy second to Garfunkel on the flat over 2100m at Echuca last Sunday. He’s certainly got the speed in his legs to put his rivals to the test again on Saturday and should add to his impressive tally of feature steeplechase victories.
A perfect weather day for the annual Oakbank festival with sunny conditions and a forecast temperature of 24-degrees. The rail will be in the Normal inside position and the track will race as a Good4 surface.
QUADDIES (races 6,7,8,9)
Skinny Play: 2,6 – 3,5 – 6 – 2,6
Wide Play: 1,2,,5,6,8 – 1,3,5,8– 2,4,6,8 – 1,2,6,10,11
BEST BET: R8 – 6. BENZ
Next Best Bet: R9 – 6. JAYEFFKAY
Best Roughie: R3 – 11. DEECEMBER
No2 EL DESPERADO Form hard to fault with a win 1712m Gawler Jan. 21 and four placings this time in. Had good support when 1.7-length third Skillful Steps, Modulate 1550m Morphettville Parks similar grade Mar. 10. Coming back in distance but drawn to box seat here and will prove hard to hold out.
No5 AMBERTONE Has won at Strathalbyn 1100m and Murray Bridge 1006m from last five outings and should give a good account of herself again here. Caught a little wide and bumped at 250m when 2.1-length fifth Easy Beast 1200m Morphettville 3YO 54kg Good4 Mar. 12. Respect.
No1 PHELPS GLORY Caught wide second up when eighth Over Exposure 1250m Morphettville Parks similar grade last Saturday. On the seven-day back-up and could pay to overlook last run which was out of character. Beat Shrouded In Mist Morphettville this distance before spell. Chance to bounce back.
No3 MIGHTY MICK Started $14 in beating Krupt Leda 1200m Gawler Maiden Mar. 7. Up in grade here but has place claims.
VALUE RUNNER: No5 AMBERTONE
No1 ANGELOLOGY Grand jumper who has been racing in outstanding form on the flat recently and will be even tougher to beat now he’s returning to the obstacles. Won Wangaratta Cup 2000m from Velox 57.5kg Mar. 4 then worked home well but pulled up lame when 4.25-length fourth Velox 2000m Mornington BM90 58kg Soft5 last Saturday. Only needs to be fit to win this.
No3 ABOUT THE JOURNEY Shaping nicely for this following easy 5.2-length win over I’m A Bluebagger 3200m Hurdle this course 66kg Mar. 18. One of the main chances.
No8 GETTING LEGGIE Broke through for Maiden Hurdle win over Strike The Stars 3200m Warrnambool Soft5 Mar. 15. Previous flat form solid and he should measure up to the tougher jumping opposition here. Rates highly.
No2 RENEW One of the jumping stars from last season but off to a slow start in 2018. Started a $4.80 chance but failed to finish in the 3200m Hurdle here Mar. 18 won by About The Journey. Would be a chance on best form but has to be taken on trust here.
VALUE RUNNER: No8 GETTING LEGGIE
No11 DEECEMBER (BEST ROUGHIE) Placed at four of five runs this campaign and won two of three prior to her spell. Chased home solidly for 2.25-length third Working From Home, Niamh Chinn Orr 1200m Moonee Valley Filles and Mares BM70 57kg Mar. 16. Drops 6kg against the boys here and is definitely going to be hard to run down with her feather weight.
No6 MR LIBERTY Form tailed off in two runs after beating Vungers 1300m Geelong Synthetic 59kg BM64 Dec. 3. Resumed off a 9-week break with a fast-finishing 1.65-length fourth Holy Blade 1000m Sandown 58.5kg Good3 Mar. 14. Gets in nicely with apprentice Jordsjo’s 3kg claim and will take up a striking position from favourable barrier. Hard to beat.
*SCRATCHED* No4 ZALMONA Came off a four-week break and chimed in at 200m when 1.3-length fifth Tatoosh 1200m Morphettville BM75 57kg Mar. 12. Recorded wins at Gawler 1208m Class2 Jan. 21 and Morphettville BM75 Feb. 3 before solid third Blue Tycoon, Miss Identified 1250m Parks track 55kg Feb. 10. In top form and will strip fitter here.
No2 EVIL DREAMS Scored first-up over Akkacan, Swiss Design 1050m BM70 57kg Mar. 3 then forced widest on turn when game 3-length fourth El Sicario 1050m there 56kg Mar. 12. One of the main chances in an open race. Inside barrier a big assist.
VALUE RUNNER: No11 DEECEMBER
No8 TATOOSH Has won his two starts since joining the Clarken stable and looks the one to beat again. Won on protest over Weather Channel 1200m BM75 Morphettville 54kg Mar. 12 then arrived in time to nab Exalted Traveller 1400m Parks track BM709 58.5kg last Saturday. Drops to luxury 51kg with apprentice allowance and is ideally placed in slightly tougher company.
No10 DEVILISHLY Sprinted clear on straightening and fought back strongly to defeat Cadabra 1500m Yarra Valley BM70 57.5kg Mar. 18. That was her second win from last four starts and she has the speed to overcome the wide barrier. Rates highly.
No11 WEATHER CHANNEL Lightly-raced type who returned in fine fettle when lost race on protest to Tatoosh 1200m Morphettville BM75 54kg Mar. 12 as a $17 chance. Bound to strip fitter here and has to be considered despite the 2.5kg weight swing in Tatoosh’s favour.
No6 LADY SILHOUETTE Overraced first-up but got home nicely for 1.8-length fifth Miss Identified 1400m Morphettville Parks 57.5kg Mar. 17. Had a Gawler win and three placings from previous seven starts and will shape fitter for this.
VALUE RUNNER: No6 LADY SILHOUETTE
No3 ZED EM Outstanding jumper who has won five of last six outings over the obstacles including last year’s Von Doussa Steeple 3250m this course and prized Warrnambool double - Brierly and Thackeray Steeplechases over 3450m on Heavy tracks. Enters this race having chased home Garfunkel on the flat 2100m BM64 Echuca last Sunday. Only needs to stay upright to win.
No4 I’LL’AVA’ALF Showed he was primed for this with a 4.5-length win over King Kamada 3450m Warrnambool Steeple Soft5 73.5kg Mar. 15 at third run this campaign. Chased home Zed Em by 1.5-length 3450m Thackeray Steeple Warrnambool Heavy10 last July and second to Nishiazabu 3250m Steeple this course last year. Rates highly.
No2 SPYING ON YOU Won this race last year as a $16 chance. Came off two wins on the flat 2400m and 2200m to beat Cable Bay 3040m Gawler Hurdle 74kg Good4 Feb. 28 then 5-length fourth Zed Em 3250m here Mar. 18. In form and will give a good sight again.
No1 NO SONG NO SUPPER Winner of the Warrnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase in 2016 and runner-up last year. Finished fifth to Zed Em 3250m Von Doussa Steeple 68kg here Good4 Mar. 18 then 4.75-length in arrears of Zed Em when fourth to Garfunkel flat 2100m Echuca last Sunday. Will be chasing the favourites.
VALUE RUNNER: No2 SPYING ON YOU
No2 JIM’S JOURNEY Unplaced twice in Group company since game 1.7-length second Exalted Lightning 2035m Birthday Cup Morphettville 59kg Feb. 17. Well back early and didn’t come on when 7-length eighth Fanatic 3200m Adelaide Cup 56kg Mar. 12. Freshened since for the shorter trip here and forward showing expected in this easier company. Finished second to Kourkam in this race last year.
No6 ASHLEE MARIE Best form has been in fillies and mares grade but will find this easier than recent assignments. Produced seconds to Ceylon 1600m Pakenham Feb. 8 and Miss Danni 2100m Sandown Feb. 14 then had five weeks between runs and beaten at 500m when fading 6.8-length last of six to Velox 2000m Mornington BM90 Soft5 last Saturday. Better for that run and a sharp improvement expected, especially if left alone in front.
No9 ACE ATTACK Model of consistency with two wins and six placings from last ten starts. Chased home Column 2000m Morphettville BM70 57kg Mar. 3 then battling 2.6-length third Leider and subsequent winner Sagaab 2004m BM82 54kg there Mar. 12. Won’t be far away.
No5 WE’RE SO LUCKY Penola 1700m Open Handicap winner Jan. 18 whose form tapered off next four runs before leading and fighting on for half-length second Berisha 1950m Yarra Valley Cup 54kg Good4 Mar. 18. Chance on latest effort.
VALUE RUNNER: No2 JIM’S JOURNEY
No5 BERTWHISTLE Won three on end Horsham 1800m, Penola 1700m and Gawler 2105m BM70 Jan. 7 before game 2-length third One For Later, Stormy Shore 2000m Flemington Fillies and Mares BM84 Jan. 20. Two runs since good, including last start length third Divine Sanction 2000m Edenhope Cup 54kg Mar. 10. Will be running on and chances enhanced by Chan’s 3kg claim.
No3 LIEDER Racing well and will prove hard to beat again. Battled on for 1.8-length third Column, Ace Attack 58.5kg BM70 Morphettville Mar. 3 then too good for Sagaab, Ace Attack 2004m BM82 52kg there Mar. 12. Big jump in weight here but commands respect.
No1 SATURDAY SORCERER Has a win at Gawler 1700m BM75 and three placings from last five starts and will be handy again. Carried 59.5kg when 1.7-length third Daktari, Dances on Stars 1600m Morphettville BM75 Mar. 3 and 55kg when third Captain Duffy there last Saturday. Might be able to conjure something special on the quick back-up and claims 3kg again.
No8 TRAFFIC MAESTRO Meets Lieder 7kg better for 7-length margin when eighth to that galloper 2004m Morphettville Mar. 12. Won 1700m Gawler BM60 59kg previous start so has claims.
VALUE RUNNER: No1 SATURDAY SORCERER
No6 BENZ (BEST BET) Hasn’t been far away in four runs this campaign and this looks ideal. Couldn’t get a crack at them when 1.9-length fourth Stellar Collision 1200m Morphettville Flying 54kg Mar. 17 then led and battled on gamely for 4.75-length third Whispering Brook 1200m Listed Abel Stakes Moonee Valley 54kg Mar. 16. Won the Group 3 Zeditave Stakes from Hard Promise, Derryn last season and also beat Ken’s Dream 1200m Moonee Valley. Has the same weight as last run in more moderate grade and looks the winner.
No2 BAY ROAD Won three on end to begin last campaign and bound to give a good sight first-up again. Started $21 chance last start when 2.3-length fourth Casino Wizard 1200m Morphettville Listed Christmas Handicap 57.5kg Good3 Boxing Day.
No8 CERTAIN ELLIE Honest mare who showed pace and fought on strongly to beat Angry Gee 1000m Moonee Valley BM70 56.5kg Jan. 26 then just failed to catch Itz Invincible 1000m Morphettville Parks 54kg Feb. 10. Nice and fresh for this but yet to win beyond 1000m. Respect.
No4 RIZIZ Fitter for four runs this time in and should be ready to fire. Didn’t have much room in straight when 1.5-length fourth One More Daisy 1100m Morphettville 56kg Good4 BM90 Mar. 3 then struck trouble again when closing 2-length third It’s Been A Battle, Stellar Collision 1200m Listed Matrice Stakes there 58kg Mar. 12. Will appreciate the drop in weight.
VALUE RUNNER: No8 CERTAIN ELLIE
No6 JAYEFFKAY (NEXT BEST BET) Promising type resuming here but has the benefit to two recent trials to fit him for this. Easy winner over Moody Miss 1000m Naracoorte Maiden Soft6 55.5kg June 18 then shot away from Bris Vegas to win by 3.3-length Murray Bridge 2Yr Class1 59kg Soft5 July 5. Drawn to get a soft run and looks the one to beat.
No2 AKKACAN Has returned in fine form and should be ready to win again following two runs from a spell. Held up at 200m when unlucky first-up 0.4-length second Evil Dreams Morphettville BM70 1050m 55kg as $3.40 fav then chased home the very smart Despatch and Stragun 1000m Morphettville Parks 55.5kg Mar. 17. Up in weight but back down to BM64 class here.
No11 LILY’S REWARD Improved off two runs from a spell when she led and kicked clear straightening in beating Fourdays Of Mylife 100m Geelong 0-58 Good3 58kg Mar. 17. Had been missing the kick in two previous runs and from barrier 11 here she will need to go forward early to have a winning chance.
No10 KABINI Resuming here and usually needs a few runs to hit top gear. Made gradual improvement off three runs from a spell when she beat White Caps 1050m Morphettville 3Yr BM70 54.5kg Dec. 9.
VALUE RUNNER: No11 LILY’S REWARD