Connections of exciting filly Sierra Sue are hoping the New Zealand-bred three-year-old can continue her near perfect formline when she contests the Group 1 Australasian Oaks (2000m) at Morphettville on Saturday.
The Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young-trained filly has won three of her four career starts, with her only blemish coming when she finished runner-up over 1600m two starts back. Part-owner John O’Neil has been thrilled with her performances and he is enjoying the experience of being involved with the Busuttin-Young stable. “It has been a short relationship, but a really positive one, and one we are building on pretty quickly with Trent and Natalie,” O’Neil said. “They are great communicators and wonderful trainers. Trent bought this horse off a trial with Ozzie Kheir. So all the boys who are in Ozzie’s crew jumped into this. “We are really excited to win three starts out of four in the first prep.”
O’Neil is buoyed by Busuttin’s confidence heading into Saturday and said it isn’t too dissimilar to when stablemate Tagaloa won the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m). “Trent has always had a big rap on the horse. I know she has worked really well and he seems really happy with the horse,” O’Neil said. “I know Trent is pretty confident and the last time he was this confident was when he was talking to me about Tagaloa prior to the Blue Diamond.”
Sierra Sue has drawn the outside barrier in the 16 horse field, but O’Neil said the track conditions on Saturday will dictate the virtues of the draw. “We have drawn the car park,” he said. “We will just see the way the track is playing. There will be a fair amount of rain and I will imagine she will get through that okay. “Whether we go forward or back will depend on the pace in the race. “Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope she runs well.”
O’Neil also shares in the ownership of another exciting New Zealand-bred horse in Verry Elleegant. The Chris Waller-trained mare has given her connections a memorable autumn, having won the Group 1 Tancred Stakes (2400m) and finished runner-up in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m), Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m), and Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m). “Chris Waller has done a great job with her,” O’Neil said. “She is a busy sort of filly and he managed to win an (Australian) Oaks (Group 1, 2400m) with her (last year) when she doesn’t really settle that well. “But during this (autumn) campaign she really settled down and (jockey) James McDonald had a great affiliation with her as well.”
O’Neil is now looking forward to the spring where Verry Elleegant will have some major Melbourne targets. “We are really excited about her prospects and I think a Caulfield Cup (Group 1, 2400m) is definitely a race for her and then onto the Melbourne Cup (Group 1, 3200m),” O’Neil said. “A lot of the ratings we have got suggest she is a 2400m-plus elite staying horse and I think we saw that in the Tancred this year. “She is in great form, we just hope she has a nice break now and Chris can get her ticking over and performing at that level in the spring.”