Gondokoro belts Qld Oaks field

| June 2, 2013
Gondokoro dominant in Queensland Oaks.

Gondokoro dominant in Queensland Oaks.

Victorian-trained Gondokoro brilliantly won the Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm vindicating Pat Carey as a master trainer of stayers.

Carey has a great relationship with stable jockey Rhys McLeod and his ride aboard Gondokoro was more than worthy of a Group One victory.

McLeod tracked $2.90 favourite Dear Demi early, before continuing to save ground on the fence and finding clear running in the straight.

With the help of her stout Zabeel bloodlines, Gondokoro ($4.40) proved the superior stayer in the slow conditions to finish 2-3/4 lengths clear of Miss Zenella ($9) and Vaquera ($10) in third.

“She’s a very strong staying filly and she can only improve in time as she furnishes out and develops,” Carey said.

“We’re focused on the autumn with her but we’ll see what (owner) Trevor (Delroy) wants to do with her in the spring, but we’ve still got a lot of time to develop her and we’ll try and use that properly.

“I thought it was just a perfect ride.”

Gondokoro is not likely to back up against the boys in the Derby next week, and Carey is not rushing to make a decision on whether the filly will be set on a Cups campaign this spring.

“We won’t make any sort of plans until we sit down and let the dust settle and that’s always been our method of operation,” he said.

The great patience of Carey has seen him taste feature-race success with his stayers, including wins by the ill-fated Cedarberg in the BMW, Ethiopia in the Australian Derby, and the Victoria Oaks with Arapaho Miss.

The Oaks was only Gondokoro’s second win from 13 starts and improves on her third placing in the Australian Oaks at Randwick in April.

While Gondokoro was on top of her game on the slow track, the same could not be said for her older full brother Zabeelionaire, who finished last behind Quintessential in the Eagle Farm Cup (2,200m) earlier in the program.

It was a fourth Group One for McLeod, who modestly downplayed his role in Gondokoro’s win.

“From barrier one we needed a bit of luck, and we got it, but in saying that she made it easy for me,” he said.

Miss Zenella proved she had a future as a staying mare with a brave run to finish second, while Vaquera ran to the line boldly from the back of the field.

Dear Demi raced midfield ahead of Gondokoro but raced ungenerously at times with the blinkers back on and she never looked a winning chance in the straight.

Owner Trevor Delroy was again shown to be one of the shrewdest breeders of stayers in Australia as Rhys McLeod turned in a gem to win yesterday’s Group 1 Queensland Oaks on Gondokoro.

In another Group 1 sweep for the mighty Zabeel, Gondokoro comfortably held fellow Zabeel filly Miss Zenella to avenge previous defeats at the hands of yesterday’s beaten favourite Dear Demi (7th).

McLeod was lauded by both Delroy and trainer Pat Carey for the ride after he took shortcuts in the run, but the jockey preferred to heap praise on the filly, rather than anything special he offered.

“She made it happen too,” McLeod said. “Yes, I suppose it was a good ride and I was able to pinch two or three lengths without doing anything, but she allowed me to do that.

“This is my fourth Group 1 win and they’re all special.”

McLeod has previously been a Group 1 winner on King’s Chapel in New Zealand, Dowry in the South Australian Oaks and on Ethiopia in last year’s Australian Derby for Delroy and Carey.

Delroy was a shining light for Australian breeders in the internationally dominated Melbourne Cup last year, having two runners (Ethiopia and Zabeelionaire).

He bought the Carnegie mare Kisumu with the specific intention of sending her to Zabeel and that mating has now produced two Group 1 winners, after Zabeelionaire’s South Australian Derby last year.

“The jockey is the most under-rated jockey in Australia, it was a bloody terrific ride,” Delroy said.

“The 2400m suited her, she is bred to run the journey and is a very seasoned horse now.

“I’ve loved my association with Pat Carey and I think we are a terrific team.”

Carey said a decision on Gondokoro’s immediate future, which includes the possibility of backing up in next week’s Derby, would be let for Delroy to decide.

The trainer is being realistic about Gondokoro’s prospects of winning big races in the spring, but took great satisfaction in landing a Group 1 win with the filly.

“We have been focused on the autumn for a long time and she has only continued to improve with time,” he said. “She’s a very strong staying filly now we’ve had time to develop her.

“Being able to do that is a testament to the filly’s ability to stay up for an extended preparation.

“Dear Demi has had the wood on us up until now and she’s done a tremendous job all season, but today was our day.

“Rhys is a pretty cool customer. He allows horses to have time and they finish off for him.”

Peter Moody’s fears that Miss Zenella may have been one run short rang true when she just couldn’t go with the winner in the final 100m.

Moody said Miss Zenella would be spelled immediately.

“The other one was more seasoned,” Miss Zenella’s rider Luke Nolen said.

“I thought we were going to fight it out with the winner when we peeled off her back, but he (McLeod) must have been playing a bit of cat and mouse.”


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