Trainer hoping to upset favourites
Iain Kennedy is hoping Lady Shabeel will emerge as a genuine classic contender after her trip south this weekend.
The Rotorua trainer heads to New Plymouth for Saturday's Listed Bob Sharrock Memorial Oaks Prelude and a solid performance will see the filly remain on target for a start in the Group I Wellfield New Zealand Oaks.
"That's the plan and it would be lovely if she could win and then go straight to the Oaks, otherwise we might have to give her another run over 2100 metres at Ellerslie," Kennedy said.
A winner three runs back, Lady Shabeel has had a forced break since she last raced in December.
"She's a nice filly, but she was a bit shin sore after Rotorua so she had a bit of a break," Kennedy said.
"She's come up very well and I think she will cope with the extra distance, she's got the breeding and she runs more like a stayer than a sprinter."
The TAB has opened the Evan and J.J Rayner trained Storytime and the Graeme and Debbie Rogerson trained Date Night as equal favourites for the race with Dream Catcher and Sacred Rhythm on the second line of betting at $6.50.
Lady Shabeel is considered a long chance, opening at $21 on the fixed market.
Local interest in the race is thin with the John Wheeler trained Vancedora one of only Taranaki entrants set to start, the other being the Bryce Revell trained It's Pandermonium.
Vencedora, who will be ridden by veteran Trudy Thornton, will be having just her sixth start.
The daughter of Ekraar won two starts ago on December 27 at New Plymouth but failed in her fresh up run at the same venue, finishing last of the 14 runners over 1800m after being handy early.
Lady Pandermonium is yet to salute the judge after her four starts but was a good third over 1800m at New Plymouth last Friday.