Dear Demi’s road to the Oaks has been full of potholes with the filly the victim of bad barriers, bad luck and bad rides.
On Thursday at Flemington, she still had an ordinary barrier but a gem of a ride from Jim Cassidy finally produced the right result for trainer Clarry Conners and owner John Singleton in the VRC Oaks (2500m).
Singleton had sacked Cassidy after Dear Demi’s luckless fourth in Saturday’s Wakeful Stakes but his replacement Nash Rawiller was suspended at the meeting and Cassidy gained a reprieve.
There were no mistakes for her grand final, with Cassidy taking her back from barrier 12 and popping out around horses at the top of the straight where Dear Demi ($5) lengthened stride to fight it out with Wakeful winner Zydeco ($2.40 fav).
She got her revenge by 1-1/4 lengths with Summerbliss ($9) another 1-3/4 lengths behind.
“She was so strong today. As I keep saying to everybody we set her for the race six months ago,” an emotional Conners said.
“It was her seventh run this preparation. She’s a stronger horse than I thought she was.”
Conners made the bold prediction Dear Demi would win the Oaks after she ran second to Pierro in the Champagne Stakes in April.
Second-up in the Sydney leg of her spring campaign, Dear Demi won the Furious Stakes with James McDonald aboard but her next four starts only yielded tales of woe.
“She has been slaughtered three times in a row by Jimmy McDonald and Jimmy Cassidy,” Singleton said.
“I rang Nash but he was suspended so Jimmy got a reprieve.”
Conners’ past successes for Singleton include Group One wins in the Golden Slipper with Belle Du Jour and the Queensland Oaks with Zagalia.
It was the third VRC Oaks win for the popular Sydney trainer, who collected the trophy with Research in 1988 and Arborea in 1993, and the fifth for Cassidy after wins by Weekend Delight (1990), Tristanagh (1989), Sandy’s Pleasure (1987) and Diamond Shower in 1986.
“I had to turn it around on the other day,” Cassidy said.
“I said to Singo and Clarry I have to go back. If I go forward it’s suicidal and I won’t win.
“Clarry didn’t want me to be back there but I said to him ‘I’m on the best filly, forget about the other day, worry about today’.
“I got out at the 600 (metres) and got onto the backs of a couple and arrived at the 200 doing nothing.
“Clarry’s always had a big wrap on her but she’s had bad luck.
“She’s pretty one-dimensional, get her back, get her relaxed and let her get there.”
Conners would not be drawn into autumn plans for Dear Demi, saying she would have a well-deserved rest.
After spending 10 days at Geelong where Dear Demi has been stabled, he was also looking forward to some down time with his wife Maree celebrating her birthday.
“I think we’ll be staying in town tonight,” he said.