A Closer Look – Queensland Oaks

A look at the trends that matter ahead of the Queensland Oaks

AMOKURA winning the CHANNEL 7 QUEENSLAND OAKS at Eagle Farm in Australia.
AMOKURA winning the CHANNEL 7 QUEENSLAND OAKS at Eagle Farm in Australia. Picture: Racing Photos

Favourite backers won't mind if this Saturday's Queensland Oaks follows the same script as the 2023 edition.

Heading betting on the $700,000 Group 1 is Chris Waller-trained filly Scarlet Oak, who is attempting to win the 2200-metre Group 1 in the same year that she made her debut.

That was something that had not been done in the modern era until Amokura won the Oaks at her sixth start, 104 days after finishing fourth in a 1250m Taree maiden on debut.

Scarlet Oak, who like Amokura is a daughter of Kermadec, is preparing for the fifth start in a career that began on March 13 with a 1400m maiden win at Matamata – 87 days before the Oaks.

Racing & Sports has detailed history of each Queensland Oaks winner from 1990 and no other winner in that time made their debut in the same year of their Queensland Oaks.

The Oaks' change in distance from 2400m to 2200m might have helped its accessibility to fillies off lighter preparations.

There have been seven Queensland Oaks at 2200m and only Winx (2015) and Winning Ways (2019), who won at starts 12 and 13 respectively, had raced at least 10 times before the Oaks.

Only five of the 16 Queensland Oaks at 2400m this century were won by a horse who hadn't had at least 10 starts.

The average number of starts for a Queensland Oaks winner at 2200m is 9.28, while it was 10.93 as a 2400m event.

The change in distance has coincided with a shift away from Group 2 The Roses (2000m) being the definitive Oaks lead-up.

Nine of the last 10 winners before the Oaks shifted to 2200m in 2015 had their final lead-up run in The Roses but just twice since, Youngstar (2018) and Winning Ways, has the Oaks winner contested The Roses.

The first seven home in this year's The Roses – Scarlet Oak, Mare Of Mt Buller, Miss Joelene, Our Gold Hope, Molly Bloom, Kind Words and Good Banter – are running on Saturday, along with Mollynickers (ninth), Oceans Of Energy (11th) and Amazonian Lass (13th).

The most highly-fancied runner who did not come through The Roses is Ahuriri, who has been $7.50 into $5.50 after a luckless fifth in the Group 1 SA Derby (2500m).

Single-figure odds runners have dominated the Oaks of late with $21 chance Winnings Ways the only winner longer than $8 in the past 12 years.

Six favourites have won in that time with Scarlet Oak and Ahuriri joined by Molly Bloom and Mare Of Mt Buller as those at single-figure odds in this year's event.