Cambridge trained filly Cheval D’Or tuned up for a tilt at the Gr.1 Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm with an exhibition gallop between races at Te Rapa on Saturday on a heavy track.
Prepared by Tony Pike, the daughter of Almanzor was a last start winner of the Gr.3 Championship Stakes (2100m) at Pukekohe last month and it will be six weeks between runs when she contests Saturday week’s Oaks.
“It was really just a day out to get away from home and give her a gallop, obviously not in ideal conditions,” Pike said.
“She did enough work on Saturday, it was just to give her a trip away as she hadn’t had a run for four weeks.
“It fits in nicely and she flew over this morning (Monday). She'll have a reasonably quiet week, probably do a little bit of work Saturday and will have a gallop on the course proper at Eagle Farm on Tuesday next week.
“She’s a natural staying filly. She’s pretty deep into her preparation and coming off a very heavy track at Counties, I just thought she didn't need another run.
“Going to Doomben over 2000m (for the Gr.2 The Roses) probably wasn't her type of race so I just thought that Oaks only being 2200m this year, six week in between runs will be fine for her. She’s a very clean winded and natural staying filly.”
Michael McNab will retain the ride on the filly in Brisbane, with the support of both Pike and owner Dick Karreman of The Oaks Stud.
“Michael’s been a good servant to both The Oaks Stud and us throughout the season, so Michael’s going to get the chance to head over and get a bit of sun on his back and ride her in the Oaks,” Pike said.
Pike is confident the New Zealand form will continue to measure up, with Cheval D'Or around the mark in a pair of stakes races before her last start Group Three breakthrough.
“You never know until you get over there but obviously our fillies have been pretty strong in Australia this season so I'm just going off the back of that, she is probably peaking at the right time.
“We missed the New Zealand Oaks (Gr.1, 2400m) and it looks like the right decision at this stage.”
A half-sister to Pike’s grand galloper The Bostonian, and closely related to Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) favourite Kovalica, Pike is hoping the family affinity for the Sunshine State will continue.
“We had a lot of fun with The Bostonian in Queensland. It was probably his favourite place in Australia although he did manage to grow a leg wherever he got off the plane,” Pike said.
“He gave us a lot of thrills with his two Group One wins (Doomben Ten Thousand and the Kingsford-Smith Cup) in the same season in Queensland and he was unbeaten up there as a three-year-old.”
“We’re hoping she does the same.”