Barb Raider

Barb Raider winning at Flemington (Image: Racing Photos)

Preview provides new Kennedy Oaks favourite

The Kennedy Oaks has a new favourite after Barb Raider lived up to punters' expectations in Wednesday's $75,000 Kennedy Oaks Preview (1800m).

Sent out the $1.65 favourite ridden by Craig Williams, who has been aboard the Rebel Raider filly in all four of her race starts, Barb Raider gave onlookers little cause for concern settling fourth in the run and taking the lead inside the 300 metres for a comfortable two-length victory.

The win was the second of four for the day for Williams, while for her Mornington-based trainer Jerome Hunter it was his second Flemington success.

"I was quite happy there was a bit of tempo as last start it was a bit of a sit and sprint and you still have that question mark, can she stay or not?" Hunter admitted.

"Bit of speed on and she had a kick and I think she is a little more improved too." 

Hunter, who trains privately for Graeme Gathercole of Graebar Park, has his eyes set on the $200,000 Group 3 Ethereal Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 16 and hopes to be at Flemington on the first Thursday in November, having gained ballot exemption for the Oaks via Wednesday's victory.

"She hit the line pretty good and we will go to 2000 metres and if she can handle that we will go to 2500 metres," he said.

The win was Williams' second aboard the filly, who he partnered to victory at Sandown at her previous start after placing on her at her first two race appearances.

"Jerome Hunter recommended me for this horse, he had a really high opinion of her and I could see why he was very excited," Williams said.

"One thing I am really loving with the journey with this filly and Jerome is just the steps he is taking, he is just letting her be as good as she can be and letting her do the talking for us and she keeps stepping up to the mark.

"He is really trying to furnish this girl in her first preparation heading towards this year's Kennedy Oaks.

"It was a true test at 1800 metres today, whereas in her races to date, except her first start, there has been a lack of tempo and positing has been really important and subsequently won.

"She's really only had to dash up 400-500 metres.

"But today she had to show her substance."

Barb Raider held off the Danny O'Brien-trained Blackcomb in second, while Tiz My Bay closed strongly for third for Robbie Griffiths and Mathew de Kock. The latter stable's more-fancied runner, Byerley Stakes winner Gonnadancealot, finished eighth.

Pinot won the Oaks Preview in 2017 before going on to win the Kennedy Oaks.