There have been a couple of recent trials at Oakbank where jumpers are preparing for the two-day Easter Carnival which takes place on Saturday, April 15, and Monday, April 17.
It’s always hard to get a good guide on how well horses are travelling in jumps trials as they generally aren’t there for a hard hit-out.
However, those that are jumping cleanly, look happy to be out there and are pulling through the line are generally the ones to follow.
A few stood out from the barrier trials and can be followed at the carnival.
Oakbank – April 10
A bunched finish and horses had held makes this trial too tough to find a standout, however, URBAN EXPLORER, SEARAVEN and MABACO all went well. Searaven has put together two nice trials now and could be the one.
They ran this along a bit but the finish was still bunched. TREMEC finished in 2nd place and was doing his best work late, while KOURKAM was hard held and cantered to the line in 4th place. Kourkam didn’t jump the last well which is a concern but he’s a classy flat galloper and scored a nice win over 2000m at Flemington in January.
ABOUT THE JOURNEY and NISHIAZABU were clear standouts in this heat. Nishiazabu always saves his best for Oakbank and is the reigning Von Doussa Steeple (3250m) champion. He won a Steeple race at Oakband on April 2, and ran nearly two seconds quicker (3:55.55) than when he won the Von Doussa (3:57.31) last year. About The Journey won his first start at Oakbank over 2900m and then finished 3rd to Auld Burns and Shiny Manners over the same trip. He finished runner-up to Distillations in a 2900m hurdle on April 2, and can improve from that effort.
SPYING ON YOU and DORMELLO MO finished best here, and considering Spying On You finished runner-up to Nishiazabu recently, the form looks strong. Dormello Mo could be the one to watch throughout the carnival. He’s an imported European stayer that has been primed with four hurdle trials before finishing a distant 3rd at Warrnambool to the very impressive Zed Em on debut and then trialling at Oakbank. ZED EM also went around in this trial but only completed one lap while the others kept going. He was pulling hard and wanted to get going which is a good sign, and the fact he didn’t go around again suggests he’s rock-hard-fit already.
Oakbank – March 27
CABLE BAY and DISTILLATION came from well back to finish 1st and 2nd respectively in a canter. Cable Bay is the interesting runner. He resumed from a two and half year break and has done nothing over shorter trips on the flat – hard to predict if he’s getting fitness up for flat races or whether new trainer Shane Oxlade will give him a crack over the jumps. Distillation has won over the hurdles since and can continue the good form with plenty of upside.
I’d be steering clear of Lucky Lucky Lucky – it was scary watching him slaughter the last few hurdles. Meanwhile, SEARAVEN forged near the line to finish best and is the one to follow from this trial.
Honey Steel's Gold and NISHIAZABU were clear standouts here with the former shading the latter and looking like the better of the pair. However, he subsequently took a heavy fall at Oakbank while Nishiazabu booted for home to win.