Useful three-year-old Annie Okay returned to her best form when she downed her age-group rivals over 1400m at Ellerslie on Saturday. The Shaun and Emma Clotworthy-trained Battle Paint filly had disappointed somewhat since running third behind Media Sensation in the Group 3 Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) at just her second start.
Two unplaced runs to kick her off her current campaign saw her ignored by punters for Saturday’s contest where the Jamie Richards-trained Burgundy Belle was installed a warm favourite to take out the event. Favourite punters were on good terms with themselves as Burgundy Belle travelled well in front however Annie Okay had tracked her throughout and was there to issue a stern challenge at the 300m mark. Asked for a final effort by rider Lynsey Satherley, Annie Okay drove to the front before holding out a late challenge from Bolt From The Blue with Burgundy Belle fighting on for third.
Shaun Clotworthy admitted he was relieved to see his charge turn her form around after her last start effort had left him scratching his head. “That was good to see as we had been expecting a much better run last time and she was very disappointing,” Clotworthy said. “We put her aside after she finished well back in the Eight Carat Classic (Group 2 1600m) as she had had enough at that stage. “I wasn’t too worried about her first up run where I thought she went alright but when she missed at Te Rapa last time it caught us by surprise. “The only thing I can put it down to is the sand and the kickback they are having there as we couldn’t find anything wrong with her.”
Clotworthy was hopeful rather than confident of a winning run on Saturday and was delighted with the filly’s effort and the ride by Satherley. “Lynsey did a great job and got her up on the speed which suits her pattern of racing,” he said. “I thought she would handle the track as she had gone okay at the trials on a similar surface. “When she hit the front halfway down, I just hoped she hadn’t got there too soon but she really fought gamely and did it nicely in the end.” Clotworthy will wait until he sees how Annie Oaky comes through the race before making any further plans but is keen to keep her going over the winter as long as she can strike tracks to suit.