Rob Heathcote’s special little filly Startantes...
Nash Rawiller has secured the prized mount for this Saturday’s 2013 Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm, the top Sydney hoop booked to ride the Clarry Conners-trained Dear Demi in the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival classic.
The Group 1 winning daughter of Dehere hit the headlines last spring with her smart victory in the Crown Oaks (2500m) at Flemington and will be out to make it an Oaks double on the weekend when she jumps favourite in the $400,00 Group 1 XXXX Gold Queensland Oaks (2400m).
Dear Demi has been in good form this time in including her (distant) second to Royal Descent in the mud in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) in April and her tight victory over Gondokoro in the Group 3 The Roses (2000m) on May 18.
Last Saturday Dear Demi backed up to run in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) against the boys at Doomben but could only manage to finish 4.5 lengths away sixth to Queensland Derby-bound Hawkspur, an effort that was better than it looks on paper according to Conners.
“She raced a bit dour, so that is going to suit her going to the Oaks,” he said.
“I thought she went nice in the Grand Prix.”
She didn’t lose the support of the bookies for the Queensland Oaks however, which will be her third run in as many consecutive Saturdays, with Dear Demi still the favourite over Gondokoro in the bookmaker.com.au markets.
At her last two starts Dear Demi has been ridden by Luke Nolen, regular jockey Jim Cassidy aboard Hawkspur for the Grand Prix victory, but Nolen is engaged on Peter Moody-trained horses this weekend.
Another jockey change is scheduled for Queensland Oaks Day however with Rawiller to jump in the saddle for the first time.
He trailed in February of 2012 at Warwick Farm when she was a maiden juvenile but the Oaks will be his first opportunity with her under race conditions, one he is very much looking forward to making the most of.
“John (Singleton, owner) and I have a great association,” Rawiller said.
“I’m very happy to ride her because there is no more consistent staying filly around.”
Conners is also confident in his filly’s form rejecting suggestions she may have passed her peak at run number three in as many weeks, the veteran horseman after his third Queensland Oaks trophy adding to those won with Allow (2006) and Zagalia (2003).
“If I didn’t run her on Saturday in the Grand Prix then she would have only had one run in six weeks going into the Oaks,” Conners explained.
“The Roses was her first run in a month and people don’t realise that.
“I had to run her twice before the Oaks.”
Leading up to her big Crown Oaks triumph last November Dear Demi showed she could handle a short back up coming off a Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) fourth just five days earlier, form Conners is looking at to back him up this time.
“She got beaten in the Wakeful Stakes last spring when she should have won and then came out five days later and won the Oaks,” he said.
“I’ve got no concerns at all about the quick back-up and she loves it.”
The 2013 Queensland Oaks final field and barriers are due for release on Wednesday and will be published right here at Races.com.au.
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