Tony McEvoy might have the best maiden in Australia in his stable but the trainer is hoping dual Group One placegetter Oohood can shed that tag in the ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes.
Oohood has been placed in all five starts during her juvenile season including a third in the $1.5 million Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield in February and a fast-finishing second in the $3.5 million Golden Slipper at Rosehill last start.
The filly is favourite to break through in Saturday’s $1 million Group One ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes at Randwick, stepping up to 1400m for the first time with Hong Kong-based Australian Zac Purton retaining the ride.
“She’s been knocking on the door and hopefully she’s got another big run in her for us,” McEvoy said.
“She’s learning and learning and getting better all the time. She did everything correct in the Slipper and just missed.”
Oohood was closing in on Estijaab with every bound in the final 100m in the world’s richest race for two-year-olds last Saturday week but the Hawkes Racing-trained filly kicked strongly to hold on by a long head.
McEvoy had to settle for his two runners, Oohood and Sunlight, filling the minor placings.
He said Estijaab was able to get away with a couple of cheap sectionals mid-race which proved telling.
“There’s no doubt if there had been more pressure applied to the winner, Oohood would have beaten her,” McEvoy said.
“Zac said at the 100 (metres) he thought he had it won but the other horse just found something. She had something left in the locker because she didn’t get softened up mid-race.
“It was a bit frustrating.”
Oohood has raced exclusively in stakes company and has come from the second half of the field and been strong through the line.
That has McEvoy convinced the step beyond 1200m for the first time will not pose any problems for the filly at Randwick.
“Watching all her runs it would be a positive, you’d think,” McEvoy said.
“So I’ve got no qualms about her going to 1400.”
Purton will be chasing his third win in the Sires’ Produce Stakes.
He landed the first Group One win of his highly successful career in the 2006 edition on Excites, who is the most recent horse to win the race going in as a maiden.
The jockey also won two years ago on the filly Yankee Rose, who like Oohood was coming off a second in the Golden Slipper.