O’Hara on Standby for Festival Stakes Ride 2012

Kathy O’Hara is on standby for a ride in the feature Sydney Summer Carnival clash this weekend with trainer Bede Murray sweating on the availability of top hoop Hugh Bowman to ride their Hawkesbury Cup winner Darci Be Good in the 2012 Festival Stakes.

Hugh Bowman

Hugh Bowman will make a decision today whether he is right to ride this weekend after an ankle injury

O’Hara has been aboard Murray’s Darci Brahma four-year-old Darci Be Good for their two most recent runs when a close fourth to Moriarty in the Tattersalls Club Handicap (1600m) at Randwick in October and then their victory in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) on November 8, the miler’s first win in 14 months.

Bowman however was due to take over riding duties when the horse vied for back-to-back stakes wins in the $100,000 Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens this Saturday.

It could be that O’Hara gets another ride on the promising galloper but as Bowman’s fitness has come into question after he injured his right ankle when he came off a horse at Mauritius during the international jockeys’ series last weekend.

“We booked Hugh to ride Darci Be Good when we learned he was available,” Murray said.

“But if Hugh can’t ride him, then we have Kathy O’Hara on standby.”

O’Hara is already booked for another Festival Stakes hopeful with Scream Machine but the Jason Coyle-trained gelding, second to Kinnersley in the Goulburn Cup last start, is unlikely to gain a run as the third emergency.

First emergency for the Festival has already moved into a starting position with the John O’Shea-trained Gangster’s Choice set to start from gate 10 after the early scratching of Praecido who came up with the extreme outside barrier (20).

While the form is there for Darci Be Good they are still at double figures in the current Festival Stakes odds having also come up with an awkward gate 17 (into 15 if the next two emergencies come out).

“I’ve always remembered Theo Green telling me if you are drawn out from the 1500m start, you can’t win,” Murray said.

“When it came to racing, Theo was usually right but I hope he is wrong this time.

“The barrier makes it tough but you have to put up with what you get.

“Darci Be Good’s a go-forward horse, he’s got good gate speed, so we have got to be positive early and hope things work out.”

While the concerns are there from the wide gate Murray said he had “no choice” but to run Darci Be Good on Saturday as they needed the run leading up to the $175,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on December 22 – a race offering a ballot exemption to the winner for the $2 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) during the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival in April.

“I’ve got no choice but to run) because he needs the hit-out going into the Villiers Stakes,” Murray, who won the Villiers Stakes 30 years ago with Hussar’s Command in his first stakes win as a trainer, said.

“I’d love to win the Villiers again, particularly as the winner is an automatic entry for the Doncaster next autumn.”

One thing Murray is confident in is that Darci Be Good’s best distance is at a mile and not further after they failed to step up during their three-year-old season finishing well back in all their runs over 2000m and above including their 11th to Ethiopia in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m).

“I tried Darci Be Good as a stayer last season because they are only three-year-old once and they only get one chance at the Derby but I’ve got no doubts he is better at a mile,” he said.

“He’s still an immature horse, he has more furnishing to do and what he is doing now he will improve on in six months’ time, but his form has been sound this preparation.

“I was pretty confident going into the Hawkesbury Gold Cup and the horse has done very well since.”

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