Group One glory
Outstanding filly Oohood chose the $500,000 Group One Flight Stakes (1600m) at Randwick to score her first win on Saturday, September 29.
The Tony McEvoy-trained Oohood had previously placed in three Group One races as a juvenile and had netted more than $1 million prize money from her first nine starts without winning a race.
At Randwick, the three-year-old finished powerfully to win the final leg of the fillies’ Princess Series in Sydney in a thrilling four-way finish.
Under the urgings of jockey Tim Clark, Oohood ($14) kept finding from back in the field to get home by a half-head over Fiesta ($5.50) with a nose to Nakeeta Jane ($14), which charged home on the outside.
“I feel a bit numb. It’s a great relief,” McEvoy said.
“It’s very exciting and she deserves it.
“I just wish the Sheikh (Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum) was here to see her win a Group 1. He was here in the autumn when she just missed out in the Sires Produce Stakes, she deserves this. She was stiff in the Blue Diamond, stiff in the Slipper I thought and the Sires, too.”
There was a point in the Flight Stakes when McEvoy thought she was going to be the hard luck story again, but she dug deep to take a few lengths off Fiesta and favourite Miss Fabulass in the final 200m.
“When they were coming up the straight I thought ‘oh no, here we go again. Not another close finish, not another narrow defeat’, thank God she put her nose out for us,” McEvoy said.
“There’s not a lot of her but she’s got great ability and she’s very tenacious.”
Oohood had been out of the placings in the first three legs of the Princess Series this spring but McEvoy never lost faith and sensed she was ready to fire in the Flight.
“She’s been behind in her coat after coming up from Melbourne, but it’s come through today,” he said.
“When I got up here on Tuesday to see her have a gallop I thought this is going to be her best run, which it needed to be.”
With a Group One win now secured, McEvoy plans to take on the colts and geldings with the filly in the $2 million Group One Caulfield Guineas (1600m) in two weeks.
“It will be tough to take the boys on, but she loves it tough,” McEvoy said.
“She was better than all the colts through her two-year-old days. Even though she didn’t win she beat the colts’ home and let’s see if she can do it again now.”
Clark said he rode the filly quietly in a bid to get her to finish strongly.
“It was a bit messy, but she was really strong late and knuckled down,” he said.
“I thought I had got there.”
“I chased the ride quite a few months ago,” Clark said.
“She was looking as though she might not have quite come up even though she was running well without getting the job done.
“I rode her quiet and tried to forget about the race early and let her be strong late.”