Wednesday, 7 November 2007:
As far as trainer Leon Macdonald is concerned there are no question marks over Serious Speed's ability to run out a strong 1 9/16 miles in Thursday's VRC Oaks at Flemington.
The filly rocketed into favouritism for the Classic after her barnstorming win in the Group One Thousand Guineas but lost some of her gloss when four lengths seventh in last Saturday's Wakeful Stakes (1 1/4 miles).
She is now equal favourite with the Wakeful winner Zarita and the runner-up Riva San but Macdonald is confident the return to level weights will be the telling factor.
Serious Speed carried 57 kilos in the Wakeful compared to Zarita's 53 and Riva San's 54 but all will be on 124lbs on Thursday.
"I've got no doubts she can run the trip against her own age," Macdonald said.
"The weight went against her in the Wakeful but it will be different in the Oaks."
Serious Speed has drawn barrier three, something else her trainer believes is in her favour.
"She should be able to get a nice smother from there and it is a very good barrier for her," he said.
Rival trainer David Hayes, who has El Daana and Diana's Secret in the race, cast doubt over Serious Speed's staying ability.
"I'd probably query her at the trip," Hayes said.
"Pat Hyland's horse (Zarita) will be hard to beat.
"The Wakeful is always the good form race."
Hyland, who also has Bourgogne in the Oaks, trained Saleous to win the 1995 Oaks and also claimed it as a jockey when he rode Rom's Stiletto in 1982.
"Zarita is going into the Oaks on a similar preparation to Saleous who ran second in the Thousand Guineas while this filly probably should have won the Thousand Guineas," Hyland said."
Zarita was five lengths sixth in the Thousand Guineas after having to overcome interference which occurred at the start of the race.
However, Macdonald believes Serious Speed's rivals all had their chance as his filly came from last and had to circle the field before striding home to beat Extension Of Time by 2-1/4 lengths.
Serious Speed will be ridden by Danny Nikolic while Greg Childs will be aboard Zarita.
Childs was stood down from riding at Flemington on Tuesday after suffering neck injuries when he came off Bling Bling who was unable to avoid the stricken Bay Story who broke his leg in the Lavazza Long Black.
But after receiving physio, Childs is expected to be at full fitness by on Thursday.
Macdonald will be looking for his first Oaks victory while Bart Cummings is seeking his ninth but it may be a big task for Marjorie.
The filly is still a maiden after five starts with her best result so far third as favourite in a 1 1/4 miles maiden at Seymour last Thursday.
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