Lily out to prove Oaks candidacy

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Lily’s Lady

Well-related filly Lily’s Lady contests Saturday’s Listed Fasttrack Insurance Oaks Prelude (1800m) at New Plymouth and trainers Stephen Autridge and Kris Shailer are hopeful the daughter of Contributer can bank some more black-type and emerge as a serious Oaks contender in the process.

Despite being a maiden after four starts, Lily’s Lady boasts a last start Group Two placing behind stablemate Needle And Thread in the Royal Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.

To be ridden by Craig Grylls, Lily’s Lady is the +340 second favourite for the Oaks Prelude, but has drawn poorly in barrier 14.

“I’ve tried to pick the easiest race to target without going to a maiden race,” Autridge said.

“We believe Lily’s Lady is improving with every run and she worked really well on Tuesday. Back to 1800m around Taranaki is a question mark but it is the path we have taken.

“We will be riding her back. We are getting ready for a 2400m race (Group 1 New Zealand Oaks). Once they get up over ground you don’t want them too keen and providing she is running home over the 1800m, you are always a chance.

“If you go forward and get caught out, do it a bit tough and weaken out, you don’t know where you are.”

Lily’s Lady is out of Bohemian Lily, the winner of the Group 2 The Roses (2020m) and a full-sister to multiple Group One winner Shamrocker, who beat the boys when winning the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m).

“It is a pretty good staying family and we have few doubts she will stay,” Autridge said.

The Matamata trainers also have the challenge of navigating separate paths for Lily’s Lady and Needle And Thread, who is also owned by Valachi Downs principal Kevin Hickman, with the location of Oaks lead-ups also a factor.

“There are races for them, but half of them are away from home and you don’t want too many away from home runs when you have to turn around and go all the way to Wellington for the Oaks,” Autridge said.

“Needle And Thread will go to Te Rapa next week for the David & Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic (Group 2, 2000m). She looks great and is going well. She is the number one seed at the moment and she won easily over 2100m, so you would think 2400m isn’t too frightening.

“She is an on-speed horse that probably over-raced a little bit at Ellerslie. Those are always question marks in the back of your mind, but she has got the class.”

Autridge and Shailer will also be represented by Master Painton, a +1300 chance in a Rating 74 contest earlier on the New Plymouth card.

“With him you never know what you’re going to get. On trackwork, you’d always give him a chance. But he can put in an average run. He won’t carry too much weight in a rating 74 and we will try and ride him handy,” Autridge said.

The Matamata horseman confirmed that Group Three winning mare Communique would bypass next week’s Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) after disappointing in the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) when finding herself in the uncustomary role of pacemaker.

“We’ve checked her out and couldn’t find anything wrong with her. She was in the Herbie Dyke but we have taken her out,” Autridge said.

“She will likely head to the Kaimai Stakes (Listed, 2000m) at Matamata on February 27 and that will tell us exactly where we are.”

Autridge said promising three-year-olds Kelly Renee and Florentia were both coming up well but will be patiently handled after Christchurch campaigns last spring.

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