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Shoals to return in G1 Oakleigh Plate

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Triple Group One winner Shoals will have to carry a big weight to win a 4th in the Oakleigh Plate.

Multiple Group One-winning mare Shoals will launch her autumn campaign in the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield despite some concerns over the big weight she will carry.

The Anthony Freedman stable confirmed on Tuesday, Shoals would take her place in Saturday’s Group One Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield for her first start since finishing among the tailenders on a heavy track in the $13 million Everest last October.

“She did a piece of work at Balnarring this morning and will run first-up in the Oakleigh Plate,” Freedman’s racing manager Brad Taylor said.

“She gets 57 kilos which is not ideal. She will certainly improve from the run.

“Last preparation she ran third to Nature Strip first-up in the McEwen Stakes and then was narrowly beaten by Santa Ana Lane in Sydney in the Premiere Stakes.”

Shoals has won first-up as a younger horse but has been beaten in her past two first-up runs.

Taylor said there were a couple of options for Shoals after the Oakleigh Plate, with the Group One Newmarket Handicap (1200m) or the Group One Canterbury Stakes (1300m) options on March 9.

“We’ll get a good line on her on Saturday,” Taylor said.

“She will take plenty of improvement – she’ll need the run – and if she’s running on and hitting the line strongly then we’ll be very happy.

“She had a good six or seven weeks in the paddock so she’s done well but she will certainly improve from the run and we look forward to her getting deeper into the preparation where she will be rock hard fit and be very competitive.”

Taylor said they had not picked out a main autumn target for the mare who won the Myer Classic, Surround Stakes and Sangster Stakes at Group One level as a three-year-old last season.

Shoals has the same weight in the Oakleigh Plate as dual Group One-winning mare Viddora and has half a kilo more than boom sprinter Nature Strip who was the $2.25 favourite on Tuesday.

The Oakleigh Plate has 30 nominations with the final field to be declared on Wednesday.

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