Oaks Day: Mr Garcia, Powerline ones to watch first up for Hunter connections

Australian Bloodstock hope to have Doncaster aspirations boosted when British addition Mr Garcia debuts Down Under on Oaks Day at Flemington.



The Hunter-based syndicators, fresh from finishing fourth with Big Duke in Tuesday's Melbourne Cup, will turn their attention to Mr Garcia on Thursday in race two, a $120,000, 1800-metre event, then Tosen Stardom in the $2 million Emirates Stakes (2000m) on Saturday at Flemington.  

Trained by German Andreas Wohler, Mr Garcia will transfer to the stables of Darren Weir in Victoria after Thursday's race.

The five-year-old gelding has had eight starts, all in England, where he won three consecutive races after a third on debut. Kerrin McEvoy will ride Mr Garcia, a $4.40 favourite with TAB Fixed Odds, from gate three on Thursday and Australian Bloodstock co-director Luke Murrell was excited about his prospects.

SETTLING IN: Mr Garcia gallops in trackwork at the Werribee Quarantine Centre in July. Picture: AAP Image/Mal Fairclough

SETTLING IN: Mr Garcia gallops in trackwork at the Werribee Quarantine Centre in July. Picture: AAP Image/Mal Fairclough

“He’s going really well and I think he's a horse that will show up in a really good race in the autumn,” Murrell said on Wednesday. “He's been good for a while now and at one stage he looked like he wasn't going to get a run yesterday so we elected to go here instead. This looks the better race for him and I reckon he'll nearly win.”

Mr Garcia has worked alongside Melbourne Cup runner Red Cardinal, which was 11th on Tuesday, and was a middle-distance specialist Murrell believed could compete at the top handicap level in Australia.

“He's a 1600-2000 metre horse and I would like to think in the autumn he could win a Doncaster or something like that,” he said.

“He's a high-class horse but he does need a bit of sting out of the track.

“He hasn’t been racing at group level but they were better than most group races and really deep handicap races for English standards.”

Another interesting runner on Oaks day is Newcastle trainer Kris Lees' Powerline, which will race in the traditional greys event, the Subzero Handicap (1400m). 

Powerline has not competed since ninth in the same race last year because of “a few little setbacks”. The five-year-old gelding trialled twice in February for a third and first but did not return until three more trials over the past six weeks over 800m, 1000m and 1200m for fifth, first and second respectively.

Lees was cautiously optimistic about Powerline’s chances first run back.  

“He has had three good trials and he’s in good order,” Lees said. “It’s just whether he runs a strong 1400 off such a long break, but he’ll give a good sight.”