Drawn barrier No 20 and sitting as first emergency in a race like the A$500,000 Queensland Oaks is not jump off the bridge time for a trainer, but nor is it a box of French champagne.

Cambridge trainer Tony Pike is perfectly relaxed about his class filly Provocative sitting and waiting her call-up for tomorrow's big race on the ballot.

"Nothing we can do about it, the mishaps she had in summer prevented her from getting enough stakemoney to get into the race and I agree with the principle of the horses with the most stakes make up the field.

"We've been prodded in the press with comments like 'you should be in the field' and the like, but I'm comfortable." Putting sufficient pressure on 3-year-old fillies, particularly Australian-bred fillies, to run 2400m can be problematic and you would probably put the odds of there being a defection by early tomorrow morning as close enough to 50-50.


If Provocative is unlucky, she will run instead in tomorrow's A$250,000 Eagle Farm Cup in the hope of securing sufficient stakes to earn her a start in next week's A$600,000 Queensland Derby. The further complicating factor is the Brisbane weather report for tomorrow.

"It looks terrible," says Pike. "They are predicting between 40mls and 80mls of rain on the day, so it looks dodgy." Provocative has yet to race on a track so badly rain-affected and Pike is keeping an open mind.

"The worst she's struck is a Dead 6 at home, but if the forecasts are right this will be a lot worse than that.

"I can't for certain say she wouldn't handle it, but it will certainly put a few of the other fillies out of business and one thing I know about my filly is that if she can get any sort of grip on the track at all she will see what will be a very tough race right out and stay the 2400m. There will be a few that won't do that."

The Oaks is a nightmare for punters - the first four favourites Dawnie Perfect, Bjorn Baker's Imposing Lass, Romantic Maid and Falkenberg are joined at the top of the table on $7. Provocative is on $8, but would be the standout favourite if already in the field.

"I quite like Dawnie Perfect, I saw her work on Tuesday morning and liked what she did," said Pike.

Facing Provocative if she runs in the Eagle Farm Cup will be Volkstok'n'barrell, who has come up as the $2.70 favourite on the tab.com.au.

Ellerslie chances

• Bouncing back: Gesemi, R6 Ellerslie: Might be wise to disregard the couple of runs since a spell. Gets a good opportunity to come back to it here.

• Better here: Fascination Street, R5 Ellerslie. Forget the run on a deep Rotorua surface last start. She runs well at Ellerslie and looks placed here.

• Value: Annabelinda, R8 Ellerslie. Did well for second last week and although this is a useful field, she will be at ideal each-way odds.