The curtain will come down on the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series for another year on Saturday when an outstanding field lines up in the tenth and final leg, the $400,000 Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham.
There are only two fillies who can claim the coveted title of Filly of the Year for 2017-18 – Dijon Bleu (NZ) (Burgundy) and Contessa Vanessa (NZ) (Bullbars).
The Lisa Latta-trained Dijon Bleu’s season came to a premature end in February because of a minor injury, but she has compiled an imposing total of 30 points with wins in the Group 3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m), Group 3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m) and Group 2 Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic (2000m), plus placings in the Group 3 Eulogy Stakes (1550m) and Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m).
Dijon Bleu’s tally of 30 points would have been enough to win the title in any of the last six seasons. However, the winner of the New Zealand Oaks receives 12 points, which puts Contessa Vanessa within reach of a come-from-behind triumph.
The Team Rogerson filly has earned 19.5 points through wins in the Group 2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) and Group 3 Sunline Vase (2100m), along with placings in the Eulogy Stakes and Group 2 Royal Stakes (2000m). Victory in the Oaks would lift her to 31.5 points.
Among the hardest for Contessa Vanessa to beat on Saturday might be the star South Island filly Savvy Coup (NZ) (Savabeel), an impressive winner of the Eulogy Stakes and the Group 3 Lowland Stakes (2100m). The Michael and Matthew Pitman-trained runner has 12 points to her name and could move into second place with an Oaks win.
The field also includes the New Zealand 1000 Guineas winner Hasahalo (NZ) (Savabeel), along with stakes performers Belle du Nord (NZ) (Reliable Man), Gold Spice (NZ) (Rock ‘n’ Pop), Milseain (NZ) (Tavistock), Mark Two (NZ) (Pins), Marcellina (NZ) (Savabeel), Caricature (NZ) (Power), Treasure (NZ) (Mastercraftsman), Blanco Belle (NZ) (Cape Blanco), Swing Note (Encosta de Lago) and Hot Fuss (NZ) (Pins).
The New Zealand Oaks will be run as Race 8 on Saturday with a start time of 4.58pm.