March 26, 2016 5:39pm
TRAINER Nick Olive revealed it was about a year ago when he “pulled rank” and locked in Kathy O’Hara as regular rider of stable star Single Gaze.
“Some of the boys (owners) were thinking about getting another jockey to ride the filly but I was sick of chopping and changing,’’ Olive said. “Kathy rides Single Gaze well and I wanted her to stay on the filly.’’
At Rosehill Gardens on Saturday, O’Hara repaid Olive’s faith and confidence with interest when she guided Single Gaze to an upset win in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m).
This was Olive’s first Group 1 after a decade of training, O’Hara’s second major and despite Single Gaze going out at $12, this was one of the more popular big-race wins of the Golden Slipper Festival.
There was mayhem in the mounting yard after the race as Single Gaze’s syndicate of owners celebrated the filly’s win.
“I’m numb, I’m absolutely numb. It’s every trainer’s dream to win a Group 1,’’ Olive said. “It’s funny, I’ve just been so relaxed all week and came here today so confident, I just didn’t realise why no-one wanted a bar of her.
“Just to share it with these people (owners) too it’s just unbelievable, I don’t know what to say.
“I’ve won the premiership in Canberra six times, we’ve had a lot of success and we’ve won stakes races but this is something else again.
“I’ve now trained nine stakes winners and Kathy had ridden seven of them — and now my first Group 1 winner.’’
Single Gaze ($12) proved the doubters wrong when she stayed a strong 2000m to hold off Valley Girl ($9.50) to win by three-quarters of a length with Happy Hannah ($9) charging home for third, a long head further back.
O’Hara gave an exaggerated victory salute about 30m from the finish, maintaining her position high in the saddle as she crossed the line, celebrating her second Group 1 success after her win on Ofcourseican in the 2012 Coolmore Classic.
Stewards fined O’Hara $400 for her celebration, while she was also hit with a $800 fine for excessive use whip on the filly.
“At the 50m I could hear them coming but I got to enjoy the moment over the last 20m or so,’’ O’Hara said. “She is so tough, so tenacious and hard to get past. I knew she was going to hang on. This filly is so unassuming, she has come out of nowhere to win a Group 1 — I couldn’t be happier.’’
O’Hara admitted she had some concerns about Single Gaze at 2000m despite the filly’s last-start win in the Keith Nolan Classic (1600m) at Kembla Grange.
“There was a question about her at 2000m but she was so strong at the mile (a1600m) last start,’’ O’Hara said. “I thought with the blinkers off she would settle well and she did.
“I had make a bit of use of her and she was left in front early in the straight but she is all heart. I wish every horse tried as hard as this filly does.’’
Single Gaze, a $70,000 yearling purchase, took her earnings over $1 million with her third win (and five placings) from 13 starts.
Olive said he will consider starting Single Gaze in the Group 1 $1 million ATC Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 9.
“This is the race I set her for, this is her grand final but we’ll definitely (consider it). It’s a blur, I just want to sit down and watch the race again and make a decision after that,’’ Olive said.
“Single Gaze’s just a top filly, she keeps stepping up to the mark and just such a gutsy little thing. She’s such a tough filly and everything she does she just improves.”