Oaks winner showing no signs of spring hangover
SIMON Zahra is optimistic Aristia can avoid the dreaded spring carnival hangover and carry VRC Oaks-winning form deep into the autumn.
Buoyant after sharing Booker's Oakleigh Plate glory last week with co-trainer Mat Ellerton, Zahra is hopeful Aristia, Sheezdashing and Rock 'N' Gold can keep the impressive stable momentum rolling.
"Aristia is pretty well, her jump-outs have been terrific, very sharp actually," Zahra said of the filly before her first-up assignment in the Furphy Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on Saturday.
"Her work has been sharp.
But it's always a concern - not that she's been showing signs of it - that the hangover from the spring carnival into autumn from horses that have run over those Derby distances and Oaks distances can be a problem.
"Having said that, we couldn't have her going any better first-up."
Asked what a suitable pass mark would be for Aristia, Zahra said: "Win … 1400m first-up is obviously not her best sort of distance but just the way she's been trialling, she'll run a bit of a race, I think."
Sheezdashing resumes after spelling following a close-up eighth behind Keneda in the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes in November. The dual Oaks placegetter is unlikely to be favoured by Saturday's predicted heat and the likelihood of a firming track.
"She probably needs the run and likes it softer than what she's gonna get on Saturday," Zahra said. "But on her first up form, she can run a bit of a race when fresh.
"I'll be expecting her to be hitting the line and improving a fair bit off that."
Zahra said both fillies would head north after starting their campaigns in Melbourne.
"Sydney is our target for both of them," he said.
"They both love the wet so we'll be happy to get a wet autumn in Sydney for both of them."
Rock 'N' Gold will be given the chance to notch his third win this preparation when he tackles the Group 3 Shaftesbury Avenue Handicap (1400m).
But his hopes of winning have been setback after drawing awkwardly (10 of 14).
"Bit of a tale of woe, the gate, because he can get quite fierce," Zahra said.
"We'd hoped for an inside gate.
"We'll have to try and ride him a bit quieter than what he did the other day because, the other day once he saw daylight, he took off.
"We're going to have to try and go back and get a bit of cover from the gate.
"He's going well. Look, he's been up for a while but he's showing no signs of tiredness."