After Kapalua Sunset raced to the top of the VRC Oaks market on Tuesday at Kyneton, Barb Raider has now overtaken favouritism following a two-length win in the Oaks Preview at Flemington on Wednesday.
Trained by Jerome Hunter and ridden by Craig Williams, the daughter of Rebel Raider justified her $1.65 quote to win comfortably, defeating second favourite Blackcomb.
Barb Raider settled in the first four in the run and quickly put paid to her rivals at the top of the straight, fending off a brief challenge from Game Legend to win it with relative ease.
Having finished in the minor money in her first two starts, the filly has since won her next two races by convincing margins at 1600m and 1800m respectively.
“I think she had a little bit more to improve too,” Hunter told Racing.com.
“She hit the line pretty good, and look, we’ll go to 2000m, if she can handle that, then we’ll go to 2500m.”
While three-year-old fillies have a number of options en route to the VRC Oaks, Hunter plans to go to the Ethereal Stakes on October 16 at Caulfield, before going straight into the Group 1 event on November 4 at Flemington.
Barb Raider has been partnered by Williams in all four starts to date, with the 44-year-old thanking Hunter for recommending the filly to him early on in her career.
“I’m only in the position I am because of Jerome Hunter,” the jockey told Racing.com.
“Her trainer recommended me this horse; he had a very high opinion of her and I could see why he was very excited.
“One thing that I’m really loving with the journey with this particular filly and of course her trainer Jerome, is just the steps that he’s taking.
“He’s just letting her be as good as she can be, he’s letting her do the talking for us and she keeps on stepping up the mark.
“He’s had a program in his mind and he’s had to alter that a fraction and he’s just made the right steps and decisions with her in regards to really just trying to furnish this girl in her first preparation heading towards this year’s Kennedy Oaks.”
Bard Raider was somewhat aided by a more genuine tempo today, which really made it a genuine 1800m staying test, in the eyes of Williams.
“It was a true test at 1800m today,” he said.
“In all of her races to date, bar her first race start, there’s been lack of tempo and positioning has been really important to how the races have been ran and subsequently won and she’s only really had to dash up probably 400-500m.
“But today she had to show her substance, and we got to see that today under full pressure.”
Barb Raider is now a $5.50 favourite for the Kennedy Oaks with online bookmakers, ahead of Kapalua Sunset ($8).