Savaju chases spring riches on Oaks Day

OPPORTUNITY: Bendigo trainer Shaun Dwyer with mare Savaju ahead of Thursday's running of the $200,000 Melbourne Cup Country Carnival Final at Flemington. Picture: DARREN HOWE
OPPORTUNITY: Bendigo trainer Shaun Dwyer with mare Savaju ahead of Thursday's running of the $200,000 Melbourne Cup Country Carnival Final at Flemington. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Bendigo trainer Shaun Dwyer expects classy mare Savaju to run a bold race in Thursday’s $200,000 Melbourne Cup Country Carnival Final (1600m).

A race for country-trained horses only, Savaju qualified for the final when a fast-finishing second behind the Darren weir-trained Night’s Watch over1400m on Bendigo Cup day.

Night’s Watch is the favourite for the final at $3.60, with Savaju good each-way value at $12.

“She pulled up well, she’s a pretty resilient type of filly,’’ Dwyer said.

“She’s come through the run well, she’s a good eater and she recovers well.

“I’m pretty sure we backed her up early last preparation and she coped well.  I don’t have any problem with backing her up, it’s just a matter of whether she is good enough and gets luck in running.”

Savaju steps out to 1600m for the first time -  a distance Dwyer has always thought the daughter of Savabeel would relish.

“When we first bought her I thought she might have been an Oaks filly and that she’d get out over 2400m or further,’’ Dwyer said.

“She hasn’t been race smart to get out over that distance as yet. We might even be a bit soon yet, but this race presented itself so we had to have a go at it.”

Popular jockey Stephen Baster has had a brilliant spring carnival and he’ll continue his strong association with Savaju. Baster has had two rides on the mare for one win and one second placing.

Dwyer is no stranger to big races at the four-day Flemington carnival.

In 2012, his crack two-year-old filly Villa Verde donkey-licked her rivals to win a Listed event on Melbourne Cup day.

“We don’t get to Melbourne much these days, let alone to Flemington for one of the four days of the great carnival in the world,’’ Dwyer said.

“It’s always a big thrill to have a horse race on one of these days.”

Prominent Bendigo businessmen Michael McKern, Barry Lyons, Jack Lyons and Scott Macumber are part-owners of Savaju.

“It’s great to see Bendigo people involved in a nice horse and it would be great for the Bendigo racing industry to see a local horse win a nice race like this,’’ Dwyer said.

Sutton Grange trainer Brent Stanley has $26 outsider Rock Of Mahal in the same race at Flemington.

Rock Of Mahal qualified for the race with a strong win at Cranbourne two starts ago before being forced o work too hard in front at Moonee Valley last start.

The in-form Michael Walker will ride Rock Of Mahal.

The Melbourne Cup Country Carnival Final is race four on Thursday at 2.15pm.