Rod Clark says it’s a case of “beat the box, beat the field” for record-breaking speedster Oriental Amber when she chases a sixth straight victory in Saturday night’s Shepparton Matchmakers final (450m).
Oriental Amber has been airborne in 2021, winning eight of her 10 starts this year, her last five in succession, highlighted by setting a new 410m track record at Horsham on February 16.
Toolleen-based trainer/breeder Clark elected to bypass the Horsham Cup, instead using the female-only Matchmakers series to prepare for the Shepparton Cup heats on Monday, March 15, at a venue where she’s won five of her seven starts over 385m and 450m.
“She’s going great guns!” Clark said.
“She was brilliant when she broke the Horsham record and then at her next start, at Ballarat, she gave the previous Horsham record-holder, Benchester, a start and a beating.
“She’ll chase until she drops and the Horsham 485m is like 520m anywhere else – it’s like the Flemington straight – so she might have found the last 20 or 30 metres a bit tough in that cup series and the Shepparton Cup is coming up soon.
“She’s definitely capable of mixing it with the best of them in the country cups and I think later on the tight turns at The Meadows will suit her perfectly.”
Oriental Amber was $1.30 favourite to continue on her winning way in the first of two Matchmakers heats held on Monday and was a dominant all-the-way winner in 25.06sec, just outside Papi Go Fast’s best of night 25.04sec in a Shepparton Classic heat.
WATCH: Provincial speed queen Oriental Amber (7) cruises to an effortless 25.06sec Shepparton Matchmakers victory on Monday night.
“She’s not a brilliant beginner; she steps and then she powers. After 15-20 metres she just has explosive speed.”
The greatest obstacle to the well-bred daughter of Aston Dee Bee and the unraced Oriental Jewel, which hails from a sensational dam-line that’s produced Group 1 winners Knocka Norris and Elite Oriental, enhancing her picket-fence form line is an awkward draw in four.
“She’s not a brilliant beginner; she steps and then she powers,” Clark explained.
“After 15-20 metres she just has explosive speed.
“She absolutely loves Shepparton. There was a pretty strong headwind on Monday night so I think she can go better, into the 24.80sec.
“Nigel Hebart and I bought her mother, Oriental Jewel, at three months of age and he actually flew up to Queensland in a jet to pick up the pup.
“Unfortunately she had bad corns in her pads and wasn’t able to race but she’s proved to be a great little mum.
“Her first litter, to Barcia Bale, included Tin Shed Fred, which is a gun on his night, and I’ve got a bitch called Oriental Jade that’s won 19 races and was only out of the money once in her first 30 starts.”
Clark is chasing a feature double at Shepparton on Saturday, with Helen’s Memory, which is also by Aston Dee Bee, to exit box eight in the Classic final after finishing second to fastest heat winner Papi Go Fast.
“He’s a great little chaser too and can run some blistering times over 390/400m but he struggles with that last little bit,” Clark said.
“He chased a good dog home in his heat and ran good time himself (25.31sec). I expect he can get down to 25.10sec.
“He’s drawn the pink, which is great for him, and we’ll be hoping there’s a bit of a jumble up in the middle.”
The Matchmakers final is race 6 on Saturday night’s Shepparton card at 7.26pm, with the Classic Final race 8 to jump at 8.13pm.
Click on the form guide below to see The Watchdog’s selections.
*The Shepparton Matchmakers will be run at 7.26pm, with the club to also host the Shepparton Classic Final at 8.13pm.
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