Aardies Express drifts in QEII Mile market

By Adam Hamilton

As if facing Ladies In Red wasn’t a big enough challenge, buzz Kiwi mare Aardies Express will have to overcome a horror draw in Saturday night’s $200,000 Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Mile at Menangle.

The barrier draw totally reshaped betting on Australia’s biggest mares’ race with Ladies In Red firming from $2.50 to $1.65 after landing gate two, while Aardies Express drifted from $2.50 to $3.40 from out wide in gate 11. She’ll start from nine if the emergencies come out.

Ladies In Red’s driver David Moran knows the importance of the draw.

“I was sweating on it, don’t worry about that,” he said. “How could you not be impressed with Aardies Express’ win the other night. She was super impressive.

“I hoped to draw inside her and we’ve done even better than that. Two is pretty much ideal and having her out wide is another big advantage to us.

“We’ll go out hard and at worst be right on the speed and in the first few. Ideally, I can keep pushing forward and get the lead. That’s where I’d love to be.

“I guess that will depend on how much speed there is outside me and how hard they want to come out.”

Despite Ladies In Red now being a six-year-old, Moran insists she is at least as good as ever through a career of 32 starts for 25 wins and over $1 million, including seven Group 1 wins.

“She might be the best she’s ever been,” he said. “That might sound a big call, but Emma (Stewart) and Clayton (Tonkin) have been really excited about her at home and she felt absolutely awesome winning last start.

“That’s as good as she’s felt, so strong and with all her speed.”

Ladies In Red’s stablemate Treachery has been backed from $14 into $8 from gate three and many believe she will be the early leader.

Moran’s “Plan A” will be to push forward and try to be first to get to Treachery and take the lead.

Another former Kiwi Illavabubbles has gate one, but is unlikely to have enough speed to hold the likes of Treachery early.

Aardies Express, who blasted a 1min48.9sec mile to win from the death on debut in Aussie, will have to do plenty of work again from such a wide draw.

Trainer Jack Trainor confirmed he would definitely drive her over stablemates Manhattan (gate 10) and defending champion Braeview Kelly (five).

Ladies In Red is part of a potentially huge night for Stewart and Tonkin.

They also have dominant NSW Oaks favourite Very Pretty, who won her heat by 17.5m in blistering time last Saturday night.

“We’ll all learn a lot from that, too,” driver Mark Pitt said. “She touched the sulky a few times which got her fired-up and had to let her go a bit quicker than we planned, but she still felt great on the line.”

Very Pretty, unbeaten in seven starts, is $1.35 from gate six in the Oaks, ahead of Millwood Bliss (gate two, $4.80) and Lux Aeterna (eight, $6).




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