Exactly where she needs to be

Best bet: Elle Mac (R6, No.5): Has the right draw to lead and win the classic.

Each way: Princess Mackendon (R5, No.8): Won this race last season and looks over  the odds.

One more chance: Bettor Step Aside (R11, No.5): Looked winner till grabbed last last Friday but tonight is weaker.

By Michael Guerin

Elle Mac is going to be exactly where she needs to be to win tonight’s $125,000 Pascoes Northern Oaks.

 Because when it comes to three-year-old classics at Alexandra Park, especially over the 2700m mobile, the winners almost exclusively come from on the marker pegs, usually in front or at worse the trail.

And of the three favourites who dominate tonight’s Oaks, Elle Mac looks almost certain to have that tactical advantage.

In the last decade only one filly has been able to overcome racing in the running line and covering extra ground around five bends and still win the Oaks: Adore Me.

She went on to win a New Zealand Cup and pace a 1:47.7 mile so can probably be excused from the normal Oaks winner conversation.

Usually the Oaks winner is the filly who can jump to the front, cut the corners and sprint the last 400m to leave her rivals, many of who are racing over 2700m for the first time, struggling.

It is the tried and true Oaks and Derby recipe.

And Elle Mac looks that filly tonight as she has a handy enough front line draw while her key, and some would say only serious, rivals in Bettor Joy and Dizzy Miss Lizzy start of the second line.

Admittedly either could secure a miracle path through early and get in front of Elle Mac, which would change the complexion of the Oaks and leave punters taking odds on about the favourite facing nervous times.

But that looks unlikely enough and all the form between the big three suggests the one with that inside running advantage will win.

Bettor Joy did exactly that when she led and won the Sales Series Pace over Elle Mac at Addington last start but the runner-up’s performance suggested reverse the draws, reverse the result. Tonight’s race should prove that.

“It definitely makes it harder on my filly and gives the advantage to Elle Mac but we won’t be giving her the race,” said Bettor Joy’s driver Dexter Dunn.

Dizzy Miss LIzzy was able to come from behind both to beat them in both the Sales Series and Jewels last season but that was when she covered no extra ground. It is hard to see her getting that sort of run and the right drag into the race tonight.

After a dreadful last fortnight in Sydney, Elle Mac’s trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen should get things back on track tonight as they also have Chase Auckland as a red hot favourite in the prelude to next week’s Woodlands Northern Derby.

He meets some sharp opponents and faces the outside draw but has looked the best of his crop so far, although punters wouldn’t be wise to take anything ridiculously short as he is fresh up and the main target is next Friday.

While the youngsters will be the star attractions tonight the battle of speed freak four-year-olds Star Galleria and Jack’s Legend in The Founders over 1700m is the night’s most tactical race.

Jack’s Legend chased Lazarus home in the NZ Cup, beating Tiger Tara and has had a break after some moderate summer form while Star Galleria downed Heaven Rocks last start but has the wider draw tonight and could be driven the more conservatively in a race where high class mares Utmost Delight and Delishka have a major fitness edge.