Oaks decision for Lucky Country

A decision on a start in the Group I $300,000 Wellfield New Zealand Oaks for Cambridge filly Lucky Country will be made at the end of this week.

Lucky Country looked one of two strong Oaks prospects for trainer Stephen Marsh, but after finishing a distant seventh in last weekend’s Bruce Perry Bloodstock Lowland Stakes at Hastings there is the possibility the stable will be represented in the Trentham feature on March 16 by Aurora Lights.

“She had a shocking run and was caught wide and had to work really hard,” said Marsh. “She’s really felt the effects of the run and I’ll see what she’s like in the next couple of days before deciding for sure about the Oaks. She could go out for a spell or there’s also the option of taking her to Brisbane.”

Lucky Country was 10 and a half lengths from the winner, High Fashion, in the Lowland Stakes, a far cry from her solid win over 1800 metres the start previously in the NZ Oaks Prelude at New Plymouth.

The Lowland Stakes (2100m) was the biggest test of stamina so far for Lucky Country and there must be some doubt whether she will see out the 2400 metres of the NZ Oaks.

Lucky Country is one of the Go Racing Syndicate horses, managed by Albert Bosma, and another is Ruud Awakening, who will be chasing her first Group One triumph at Ellerslie on Saturday in the Haunui Farm Diamond Stakes.

Ruud Awakening is one of just six nominations for the 1200-metre event and the entrants also include Bounding, the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes runner-up and the only filly who has beaten her, having done so at Pukekohe after Marsh’s stable star was fractious in the stalls and lost valuable ground early.

Marsh says Ruud Awakening has thrived since her runaway win in the Karaka Million, the country’s richest race, and will be ridden for the first time by Opie Bosson.

“She’s flying,” said Marsh. “She had a nice gallop on Saturday morning and went super.”