Eleonora heads straight to VRC Oaks

Eleonora beating Tiamo Grace in the Ethereal Stakes.

Eleonora beating Tiamo Grace in the Ethereal Stakes.

Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman will be watching Saturday’s Gr. 2 Mumm Wakeful Stakes at Flemington with much interest.

The Wakeful Stakes is the traditional final VRC Crown Oaks lead-up for several fillies and Baker and Forsman will be watching to see the likely dangers to their own leading Oaks prospect Eleonora.

Tiamo Grace, who chased Eleonora home in the Ethereal Stakes, is using the Wakeful Stakes as her final dress rehearsal for the Oaks, as is Bella Sorellstra, who was runner-up in the Edward Manifold Stakes, in which Eleonora had no luck at all and wound up 11th.

The leading Cambridge trainers had considered starting Eleonora in the A$300,000 2000-metre feature, but believe the quick turnaround from last Saturday week’s win in the Gr. 3 Ethereal Stakes would not suit her.

They are, therefore, happy to go straight into the A$1 million Crown Oaks next Thursday with Eleonora, who had given every indication she will run a strong 2500 metres at Flemington.

Eleonora was runner-up in the Listed Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie last season and since quitting maiden ranks over 1300 at Geelong she has been stepped up in distance.

One of Eleonora’s Oaks rivals bypassing the Wakeful Stakes is Yankee Rose, who ran a fine third behind superstar Winx in last Saturday’s Cox Plate. Her trainer, David Vandyke, has stated the Oaks will be her finale this year and she will miss the Sydney autumn racing to be set for the Queensland Winter Carnival.

Baker and Forsman do have direct interest in Saturday’s Flemington meeting with Highlad tackling the day’s feature, the A$1.5 million Gr. 1 AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m), and Saracino contesting the A$500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m).

Craig Williams will ride Highlad and Mark Zahra will be on Saracino.