Scarlet Oak justifies favouritism in The Roses

Scarlet Oak ridden by James McDonald has taken out the Group 2 Roses at Doomben. Photo: Darren Winningham

The old firm of Chris Waller & James McDonald combined with Scarlet Oak (+260) proving the best of the girls in The Roses (2000m) at Doomben on Saturday afternoon.

The daughter of Kermadec put the writing on the wall last time out, with a dominant 2.4-length victory at Newcastle on May 11, signalling the intent to head north for a tilt at the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2200m).

This was always going to be a necessary steppingstone on that journey, and thanks to a perfectly timed ride by James McDonald, the three-year-old looks poised to take on Group 1 company on June 8.

Everything went to plan for McDonald, as he stalked a hectic tempo throughout the 2000m journey, lobbing Scarlet Oak into the perfect position two-back on the rail.

The Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained last-start winner Amazonian Lass (+900) ensured a genuine staying contest, sending them along at a quick tempo under Adam Hyeronimus.

Poifect (+1400) was sent forward to contest the early speed battle but would eventually hand up to the dominant early leader, while a few of the leading chances like Good Banter (+1100) and Molly Bloom (+300) were slowly away, leaving the latter of the pair making a mid-race move under Blake Shinn.

The gap appeared early in the straight for McDonald, as Scarlet Oak was sent careering away with the $300,000 prize, while all the action was down the centre of the course, with Mare Of Mt Buller (+3000) and Miss Jolene (+7000) flying home to give exotic players some terrific dividends with top online bookmakers.

2024 The Roses replay – Scarlet Oak

It was all honours to the winner in the end; however, as Chris Waller eluded, there was still more to come from this progressive filly as she seeks Group 1 glory next time out.

“That’s the beauty of Australian racing,” said Waller.

“You’ve got it 52 weeks of the year and you can take advantage of it with a late developer and a rising star.

“I was eyeing her off on the TV watching her win in New Zealand. Ozzie Kheir purchased her out of New Zealand from Ken Kelso who is a trainer I respect and I spoke to him.

“He said she is the real deal but needs a bit of furnishing. The best is yet to come.

“She is taking it all within her stride and that is the only reason she is still up here because she does need time. She’s eating everything and enjoying it. No signs of stress and we’ll push on in two weeks’ time.”

James McDonald spoke post-race about her ability, suggesting she gives the feel of a miler despite being on song for the Oaks.

“It was a little bit hairy at the top of the straight,” said McDonald.

“I was squeezed for room. She’s got an extremely good acceleration to her and I actually genuinely believe that if she got a dry track then she’s going to excel.

“I think she’ll come back faster next prep. She feels like a miler to me but she is extremely talented and her talent is really going to have to shine through in two weeks.”

Scarlet Oak is now a firm favourite at +200 with top horse racing betting sites for the Queensland Oaks (2200m) on June 8.

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