Jim Cassidy and Clarry Conners added to their cluster of Victoria Oaks trophies as Dear Demi won today’s $1 million Group 1 2500-metre race.
It’s been a while since Cassidy and Conners have last won the race.
Cassidy won the Oaks four times in the late 80s (Diamond Shower 1986, Sandy's Pleasure 1987, Tristanagh 1989, Weekend Delight 1990) while Conners produced two winners in a similar era ((Research 1988, Arborea 1993).
But Dear Demi changed all that with a strong, staying performance. The first 800 metres was held at a solid tempo and the pacemakers, led by Gondokoro and Finnegan Beginegan, never backed off the tempo.
The leaders folded into the straight, setting it up for the fancied swooping pair of Zydeco and Dear Demi. Zydeco hit the lead for Kerrin McEvoy at the 300 metre mark but Dear Demi’s pursuit of Zydeco was unrelenting, striking the front shortly after and going clear to win.
Dear Demi ($5-$5.50-$5) defeated Zydeco ($2.30-$2.50-$2.40 favourite) by 1¼ lengths with Summerbliss ($8-$9) a further 1¾ lengths away in third.
“She was so strong today. We set her for the race six months ago and this is her seventh run (this campaign) but she is a better horse than what I thought she would be,” Conners said.
“It was a very gutsy win today because she had to go back and at the 800 metre mark she was a long way from them.”
While Conners was concerned with the ground Dear Demi was conceding the leaders before the home turn, Cassidy said he was cool in the saddle.
“I waited for the 600 metre mark to make my move,” Cassidy said.
“All of them started to peel out and I just got onto their backs and was following them into it going half pace. I got to the front at the 200 metre mark just cuddling her.
“She’s pretty one-dimension, get her back, get her relaxed, give her room and let her finish off,” he added.
Giving her room in the straight is something Cassidy struggled to achieve at her previous two runs. She was blocked for runs on the fence several times when third in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) and fifth in the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) last Saturday.
“We had no luck at Caulfield (in the Thousand Guineas) and didn’t have much luck in the Wakeful but I promised Clarry and Singo (owner John Singleton) that we would turn it around today and it is magic when you can do it,” Cassidy said.
Dear Demi has raced 15 times for four wins and six placings. Her prizemoney tally is now beyond the $1.1 million mark after today’s win.