Casuarina trainer Steve Withers heads into the Group Two 2014 WA Oaks campaign with two of his bitches, Replica Queen and kennel favourite, Free Candy.
“We are going to struggle from the outside boxes drawn in the classy fields.” Steve Withers explained.
Replica Queen has drawn box eight in the first heat of the Oaks against a mixture of talented West Australian bitches. The 27kg bitch’s early speed lands her at the front of the field on most occasions.
“The dog in box seven (Elyce Rhian) runs off the track and begins very well like us. You’ve got Lady Golden Paw that has gone 5.68 first look at the track and she could go early 5.60’s. She might struggle to run it out but she is still going to run around 30.60.”
“There is also Steve Collin’s bitch (Liara Allen) in the red and then Jeff Britton’s (Oakvale Flyer) from the three, but I’d be on Lady Golden Paw just because of the early speed; she should just hang on.”
Replica Queen is out of Collision – Secret Queen and has won five of her past seven races at both Mandurah and Cannington, with distances ranging from the 405 to 530 metres. Three starts back the black bitch clocked a personal best and the best of the night time of 30.46, which should hold her in good stead despite wearing the pink rug on Saturday night.
Free Candy has held a special place in Wither’s heart since he laid eyes on her dark brindle coat. The composed 27kg bitch holds herself together with such poise come race night it looks as though she should be competing in veteran races. She has drawn the second heat of the night and will be jumping out of box seven. Like kennelmate Replica Queen, Withers believes the wide box will more then likely see her come unstuck.
“It’s going to be pretty hard for her, she hasn’t got the most brilliant early speed and she is stronger then she is quick. Getting a racing position from out there is going to be really tough.”
Two weeks ago Free Candy put in an impeccable performance in the Mandurah Oaks heats from box five, running down the leading Gone To Heaven in a time of 27.70.
“Free Candy is in super form at the moment , I have a massive opinion of her and think she could really run time. She is going to go onto a staying campaign after this; I think initially she will go to the 600 then back to 500 and then back up to 600 for a little bit. Her head is staying.”
As for her last 530 metre campaign, Free Candy comes up against some stiff competition in Jeff Britton’s Mepunga Hayley from box two.
“Mepunga Hayley trialed well and she is a classy bitch.”
With Free Candy stopping the clock at 30.46 last week, a new personal best time, her form coming into the race gives the impression that the composed brindle chaser isn’t out of the running.
As for a bitch who can take out the 2014 Cannington Oaks campaign, Withers believes that Chica Destacada for NSW trainer Doreen Drynan is the bitch that should set the track alight come final time.
“I would have loved to put our bitches in the Derby series, this Oaks series is much stronger then the Derby was. All the heats are really good!”
“Having good bitches come over gives the series genuine respect!”
The Cannington Oaks heats this year have brought an array of traveling talent to match the high standard of bitch that currently congregates in Western Australia. With the first of four heats set to jump at 8.09pm Perth time, all eyes will be on first and second placegetters in each heat, as they will make up the 2014 WA Oaks Final.