Wednesday 24, 2024 2:00 PM By Best Bets

We Aussies love a classic.

While racing’s birthplace, Great Britain, limits itself to two Guineas races, a Derby, an Oaks (plus the Yorkshire Oaks, open to mares) and a St Leger, all at Group 1 level, most Australian jurisdictions have at least one of each, usually more — of wildly varying quality.

On Saturday week alone we’ve got the SA Derby, Adelaide Guineas, Hawkesbury Guineas and Queensland Guineas, ranging from Group 1 to listed level.

The following week it’s the Group 3 Gold Coast Guineas over a distance of 1200 metres — a development that would have 2000 Guineas founder Sir Charles Bunbury reaching for the smelling salts.

One classic that has stood the test of time is the Australasian Oaks (2000m), highlight of this Saturday’s card at Morphettville.

The race’s first edition (February 1982) was won by the Bob Hoysted-trained Rose of Kingston, the VRC Oaks winner who went on to beat the boys in the AJC Derby and was named Australia’s racehorse of the year.

So well was the race received that it was upgraded from Group 3 to Group 1 in its second year, with subsequent winners including Caulfield Cup heroines Imposera and Mannerism.

While the older SA Oaks has been downgraded to Group 3 and renamed in recent years, the Australasian Oaks retains its Group 1 status and remains a sought-after prize.

That’s all the more true this year, with Sportsbet’s sponsorship lifting the purse for the Oaks (and SA’s other three Group 1s) to $1 million.

The race has attracted a capacity field led by Wings Of Song (aiming for her seventh straight win) and New Zealand Oaks winner Pulchritudinous.

Whoever wins, her connections will hope she can defy a worrying recent trend — the past three Australasian Oaks winners have a combined subsequent record of 22: 0-0-0.