Oliver carries Kiwi hopes

Luna Rossa, who will be racing as La Luna Rossa when she completes at Caulfield on Saturday.

Luna Rossa (7), who will be racing as La Luna Rossa when she completes at Caulfield on Saturday.

The hopes of a trio of New Zealand-trained runners at Caulfield on Saturday will be in the hands of one of Australia’s finest jockeys.

Damien Oliver will continue his association with the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Saracino in the Gr.3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) and he will also partner stablemate (La) Luna Rossa in the Gr.2 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m) and will ride Xtravagant again for Matamata trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards in the Gr.1 Sir Rupert Clark Stakes (1400m).

The 44-year-old successfully reunited with Baker earlier this month when Saracino claimed an impressive Australian debut victory in the Gr.2 Danehill Stakes at Flemington. Oliver’s last ride for the Cambridge trainer was a runner-up finish in 2008 aboard Rios in the Gr.2 Tulloch Stakes.

Saracino’s performance is likely to determine if the Per Incanto colt will cope with 1600 metres in the Gr.1 Caulfield Guineas in a fortnight.

“I worked him on Tuesday and I’m happy with his progress,” said Oliver. “I don’t think the 1400 metres on Saturday will be a problem and this will be a good gauge if that’s as far as he wants or if he can get a mile.”

Luna Rossa goes into the Thousand Guineas Prelude off the back of her second placing when resuming in the Listed O’Leary’s Fillies Stakes at Wanganui.

“I worked her on Tuesday as well. There’s not a lot of her, but she moves well,” said Oliver.

Saracino is raced by Wellingtonian Lib Petagna and Oliver will also wear his colours aboard the Kris Lees-trained Lucia Valentina in the Gr.1 Underwood Stakes.

“I haven’t been on her recently, but I heard Kris say on the radio that he is happy with her,” he said.

The rail for the Caulfield meeting will revert to its true position after it was out nine metres for the last meeting.

“It usually plays pretty fair when it’s in the true position,” Oliver said.

– NZ Racing Desk.