Keys hoping to unlock Oaks door

Cranbourne trainer Ken Keys is hoping to take a short cut to having his first VRC Oaks runner.

Presently can secure an automatic start by winning the Byerley Handicap (1800m) at Flemington on Saturday.

The race carries a golden ticket for the winner to gain a start in the Victoria Derby, if a colt or a gelding, or the VRC Oaks, if a filly. Regardless of the result on Saturday, Keys said the VRC Oaks would be Presently's main spring mission.

"Everything about her says she's a stayer, so the Oaks is an obvious target," he said.

Keys said it was a bonus that Saturday's race carried the VRC Oaks golden ticket.

"Gaining a start in the Oaks is a bonus, but we'd be running in this race anyway. It fitted in well in her program."


Trainer Ken Keys is keen to target the VRC Oaks with Presently in the spring. Picture: AAP
Trainer Ken Keys is keen to target the VRC Oaks with Presently in the spring. Picture: AAP


Keys said Presently would drop out and run on, as she had in all of her races.

Presently, who has had three starts, has finished second at her past two runs, at Geelong and at Sandown Lakeside behind Parmie over 1400m.

"She's a genuine filly and I'm happy with her, except at the moment, though, she's a non-winner," he said. "She's given every indication that she's a stayer. She will get back again and run on. She's a good sort of horse with a bit of quality."

Presently will be ridden by Ben Allen and has been backed from $5 into $3.90 favourite with TAB fixed odds.

Keys said his top-class mare Spanish Reef had returned to work and was coming to hand quickly. "She didn't have long off, as you can't leave them out in the cold too long," he said.

Keys said he would like to aim her at the Empire Rose Stakes, but added he might not be able to keep her up that long.

"She'll stay in mares' races," he said. "I would think a race like the Stocks Stakes at Moonee Valley would be her main target race."




Brown weighing up racing future

Ethan Brown will be at Flemington on Saturday to receive his award for winning the Rising Stars Series for apprentices for the second year in a row.

But his future in the saddle is up in the air. Brown told he was taking an indefinite break from racing and wondering whether he would ride again.

"I'm just taking time to reassess where I am at and whether I want to continue in racing," he said. "I'm at a bit of a crossroad."

Brown outrode his city claim when he landed his 80th city winner at Flemington in May, on Fidelia. He hasn't ridden since May 21.

Brown, last season's leading Melbourne apprentice, will finish second behind Michael Poy this year. He also finished third in last year's metropolitan jockeys' premiership.

The 20-year-old spent time back at home in Alice Springs but has resumed riding work for Mick Kent, his master at Cranbourne. The final race in the series is run tomorrow.



1. Ethan Brown (74pts)

2. Teo Nugent (44)

3. Michael Poy (42)

4. Zac Spain (39)

5. Lewis German (37)


Ethan Brown will take a break from racing. Picture: AAP
Ethan Brown will take a break from racing. Picture: AAP