Scone trainer John Ramsey has tasted Oaks success before and he will be looking to emulate that – and even go one better – on Day 2 of The Championships at Randwick on Saturday when his filly Velvet Lady lines up in the $1m Australian Oaks (2400m).
Ramsey backed his judgement and the ability of his filly Never Listen in 2019 when taking her down to Flemington for a shot at the $1m VRC Oaks (2500m) off the back of an emphatic 8.16-length victory in a Benchmark 58 over 2200m at Scone.
True to the filly’s name, Ramsey ignored owner, breeder and father Stuart’s counsel to look elsewhere, but she did not disappoint in the family colours on ladies’ day at Flemington.
Jumping as a $41 shot and with Newcastle hoop Darryl McLellan on top, the Trusting filly was well back after a poor start before McLellan made a move around the outside of the field at the final turn to storm home and finish second behind favourite Miami Bound.
Ramsey had “never been so happy to run second”.
Velvet Lady has won her last two from a total of eight starts, placing in a further three.
The daughter of Group 1 winner Tarzino, who himself won the Victorian Derby (2500m) and Rosehill Guineas (2000m), scored her first win at Newcastle on March 22 when getting home from back in the field to take out the Class 1 2100m.
At her last start at Scone on April 4, Velvet Lady was settled second last at the 800m before coming down the outside for an impressive 3.19-length victory in the Benchmark 58 over 2200m – the same track, benchmark and distance that Never Listen won over before her brilliant VRC Oaks performance.
Velvet Lady was a $40,000 purchase for Ramsey and Matt Scown Bloodstock at the 2020 Melbourne Premiere Yearling Sale in view of producing another Oaks filly.
“That’s why I bought her. I had to find one by a little bit of an unfashionable new sire, so I pinpointed him (Tarzino),” he said.
“I nearly won an Oaks for my ‘old man’, so I thought I would try and do it for myself and (wife) Erin.”
With all but one of her starts being on a good or soft track, Ramsey is optimistic of sending her around in the heavy conditions on Saturday.
“She’s had the one start (on a heavy track) but she didn’t lose any ground and she was only learning back then. So, we’ll see what happens,” he said.
Ramsey sees drawing barrier 18 as more of a blessing for the big Tarzino filly.
“She might be better off out there out of the road, she’s a big striding filly,” he said.
Grant Buckley will again partner Velvet Lady after steering her to victory in her last two starts.
“We’re in it, we’re in the fight,” said Ramsey.
“Hopefully lightning strikes twice.”