By James Tzaferis
Mornington trainer Pat Carey is confident his filly Gondokoro can turn the tables on Dear Demi in the Group 1 Queensland Oaks after her narrow runner-up placing behind the VRC Oaks winner in yesterday’s Doomben Roses (2000m).
Gondokoro and Dear Demi have built a healthy rivalry in this season’s fillies staying events with Clarry Conners’ charge having accounted for her Victorian counterpart in all but one of five clashes, including yesterday’s Group 3 event.
Click here to read more about Saturday's Group 3 Doomben Roses result, including Victorian jockey Luke Nolen's winning ride on Dear Demi.
Carey was thrilled with the fast-finishing performance of Gondokoro and reported the daughter of Zabeel, and a full sister to last year’s South Australian Derby winner Zabeelionaire, had come through the run well and would push onto the Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm on 1 June.
“We were very happy with her performance, she was strong at the finish and she appears like she’s come through the run well,” Carey said.
“All things being equal we’ll head towards the Queensland Oaks now.
“It (the scorecard) is in favour of Dear Demi at the moment but you’d have to be confident that at some stage or other, with a little bit of luck, that things can turn around.”
“I’m sure she’ll be a lot better on a bigger track like Eagle Farm and obviously 16 fillies around Doomben can get a bit messy and it did.”
The ‘mess’ Carey was referring to was the interference Gondokoro received at the 1600 metre mark of the race, which saw her make heavy contact with the inside running rail, and was the basis for a failed protest against the winner.
While he refused to concede that the incident had cost his filly the race, Carey said it definitely hadn’t helped her chances, with jockey Rhys McLeod forced to navigate traffic in the straight before unleashing Gondokoro’s devastating turn of foot to get within a short-half-head of Dear Demi.
“She got into a bit of trouble at the mile, there was a bit of interference around her and she suffered the brunt of it when she hit the rail pretty heavily,” Carey said.
“She didn’t get the protest so obviously they (Racing Queensland Stewards) couldn’t substantiate it but I’ve got no doubt that the interference didn’t help her.
“It’s hard to work out how much it cost her but there was only a short-half-head in it and a few strides past the line she was nearly a length in front because she was going home that strong.”
Carey said Gondokoro would remain at John Meagher’s Eagle Farm training base in the lead-up to the $400,000 Oaks which is likely to be her final run this campaign.
In five runs this preparation, Gondokoro has progressed from a 1600m maiden win at Moonee Valley to eye-catching performances when fourth in the Group 1 Storm Queen Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill and third in the Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) at Randwick.