VRC Oaks 2022 Preview: Field, Betting & Winner Trends

Thousands of punters will pack into the grandstand at Flemington to watch the country’s leading three-year-old fillies battle it out in the Group 1 VRC Oaks on Thursday.

This is one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the Spring Racing Carnival, which typically draws more than 50,000 spectators. It is the main event on Ladies Day, and viewers can also look forward to the annual “Fashions on the Field” celebrations.

This is one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious races, and it boasts a $1 million prize purse, so the Oaks never struggles to attract a talented field. This year is no different, and we have rounded up the leading contenders in our VRC Oaks 2022 preview.

VRC Oaks Background and History

The VRC Oaks was inaugurated back in 1861, the same year as the Melbourne Cup. A filly named Palestine was the inaugural winner. It was a principal race held over a distance of 12 furlongs for more than a century, and it switched to 2400m when Australia adopted the metric system in 1972. The Victoria Racing Club extended it by 100m the following years, and it has been run over 2500m ever since.

The race achieved Group 1 status in 1979. It was known as the Crown Oaks for sponsorship purposes from 2007 to 2016, and it has been named the Kennedy Oaks since 2017, sponsored by luxury watch and jewellery retailer Kennedy. The race takes place on a Thursday, and it is not a public holiday, but it still regularly draws in huge crowds. The record came in 2004, with 110,667 in attendance. Only 10,000 fans were permitted to attend in 2021 due to the pandemic, but it will be back with no restrictions this year.

The race is for three-year-old fillies only. It is run under set weight conditions on the Flemington turf on the first Thursday in November each year, two days after the Melbourne Cup.


VRC Oaks Notable Winners

There have been several illustrious winners of the VRC Oaks over the years. These are some of the leading fillies that saluted:

  • Evening Peal | Winner of the 1955 VRC Oaks, who went on to win the Melbourne Cup in a record equalling time of 3:19.50 the following year. In doing so, she became just the seventh mare to win the Melbourne Cup.
  • Light Fingers | An Australian Racing Hall of Fame inductee who won the VRC Oaks in 1964 and the Melbourne Cup in 1965. She was the first of 12 Melbourne Cup winners for legendary trainer Bart Cummings.
  • Surround | The Geoff Murphy-trained filly won 12 out of 16 starts as a three-year-old, including the VRC Oaks and the Cox Plate.
  • Rose of Kingston | A three-time Group 1 winner, who landed the VRC Oaks in 1981. She was named Australian Horse of the Year in 1982 after winning the Australian Derby and the Australasian Oaks.
  • Research | The only filly to win the AJC Oaks-AJC Derby double. She saluted in both races a year after winning the VRC Oaks.
  • Miss Finland | Australian Champion Two Year Old in 2006 and Champion Three Year Old in 2007. She won the VRC Oaks, Golden Slipper and Thousand Guineas, among various other triumphs.
  • Samantha Miss | Sold as a broodmare for a record $3.85 million after winning the VRC Oaks, Flight Stakes and Champagne Stakes Oaks.


VRC Oaks 2021 Winner

Godolphin filly Willowy saluted when making her Group 1 debut in the Kennedy Oaks last year. The James Cumming-trained stayer started the race as the $3.70 favourite, having two two of her previous five starts, and she delivered upon her promise by finishing narrowly ahead of $21 outsider Douceur. Biscayne Bay was two lengths back in third.

Hoop Damien Oliver, who piloted Willowy to victory, became the joint most successful jockey in VRC Oaks history. It was his seventh win in the race, moving him level with Bobby Lewis. Oliver has won the race three years in a row, aboard Miami Bound (2019), Personal (2020) and Willowy (2021).



VRC Oaks Date

The VRC Oaks will take place on Thursday 3 November at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. It is part of the Spring Racing Carnival.


VRC Oaks Leading Contenders


She’s Extreme

The Anthony Cummings-trained filly won the Group 1 Champagne Stakes over 1600m at Randwick in April. She also ran second to Zougotcha over the same distance in the Group 1 Darley Flight Stakes on this track in early October.

She’s Extreme was one of just two fillies in the Spring Champion Stakes on 22 October, but she held her own against male rivals in the 2000m feature. She went off as the favourite, but she finished third, just half a length behind winner Sharp ‘N’ Smart. As such, she heads into the VRC Oaks as the favourite once again.

Star rider Tommy Berry will be back in the saddle aboard the gun filly for this race. He missed the Spring Champion Stakes, as he was suspended for careless riding, and he is looking forward to working with her again.


Queen Air 

The Warrnambool-trained filly surged into contention for this race after delivering an eye-catching performance to finish fourth in the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes, which is the main lead-up to the VRC Oaks. She was 2¾ lengths behind winner Zennzella, but she was really motoring towards the line.

Queen Air will now have the opportunity to stretch her legs over a further 400m in the VRC Oaks, and that is a distance she should relish. She ran fourth over 1600m in the Group 2 Fillies Classic at Moonee Valley the previous weekend, and she appears to be building impressive momentum.



The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained filly powered to an impressive victory in the Wakeful Stakes. She was half a length clear of Pavitra, and she did well to hold off her fast finishing rival. It was Zenzella’s first run of the spring campaign, and she looked sharp.

She will need to contend with a longer distance on Thursday, but history is on her side. Since 2010, Brazilian Pulse, Kirramosa, Aristia, Miami Bound and Willowy have all completed the Wakeful Stakes-VRC Oaks double.


Renaissance Woman 

The New Zealand-bred filly has had more starts than most rivals in the VRC Oaks. She has already made four appearances this spring: she was sixth in the G2 Rose Stakes and seventh in the G1 Flight Stakes, before winning the G3 Ethereal Stakes and then finishing sixth in the Spring Champion Stakes. Renaissance Woman will now bid to become the third runner to complete the Ethereal Stakes-VRC Oaks double, following in the footsteps of Set Squad (2014) and Piot (2017).


Foxy Cleopatra

Foxy Cleopatra was second to Renaissance Woman in the Ethereal Stakes. She finished three-quarters of a length behind her rival, but they both finished ahead of Pavitra, who ran Zennzella close in the Wakeful Stakes. Foxy Cleopatra is lightly raced, but she has displayed strong staying credentials, and she commands respect in this race.


VRC Oaks Odds

Horse Fixed Win Fixed Place
She’s Extreme $3 $1.55
Queen Air $5 $1.95
Zennzella $7 $2.45
Renaissance Woman $7.5 $2.5
Foxy Cleopatra $8.5 $2.8
Pavitra $9 $2.9
As Time Goes By $11 $3.2
Letsbefrankbaby $17 $4.4
Jenny Jerome $18 $4.6
So Dazzling $26 $6
Whakamana $31 $6.5
Whispering Lady $34 $7
Makrana $51 $9
Thinking Rain $51 $9
Barbwire Baby $101 $13
Grey Northern $101 $13
La Gioia $101 $13
Sirius Princess 101 $13
Uptick $101 $13
Albanian Icon $201 $26
Artocracy $201 $26


VRC Oaks Prize Money 

The prize purse for the VRC Oaks is $1 million. It awards $600,000 to the winner, $180,000 to the runner-up, $90,000 for third, $45,000 for fourth, $25,000 for fifth and $20,000 apiece for the fillies that finish sixth, seventh and eighth.


VRC Oaks Winner Trends 

  • The Wakeful Stakes is the key lead-up to the VRC Oaks. Thirty-eight fillies since 1861 have completed the Wakeful Stakes-VRC Oaks double, including three in the past four years: Aristia (2018), Miami Bound (2019) and Willowy (21).
  • Twenty-five out of 39 VRC Oaks winners since 1983 had their previous run in the Wakeful Stakes.
  • Seventeen favourites have won the race since 1983. Six more finished second, and five were third. Thirteen of the last 20 winners were priced at $6.50 or shorter.
  • Twenty-three of the past 38 winners had a saddlecloth number 1 or 2.
  • Only three winners since 2006 have humped from a double-digit gate.
  • Nine of the last 13 VRC Oaks winners had secured victory last start.

VRC Oaks Tips

Short-priced runners have a strong record in the Oaks, and She’s Extreme looks capable of success. She was going very strong through the line in the Spring Champion Stakes, and she probably would have won it if she was able to evade congestion sooner. She’s Extreme looked as though she would enjoy a longer trip, and she could secure another Group 1 victory on Thursday.