Tough Queensland filly Winning Ways will be the sentimental favourite when she tackles the Group One Queensland Oaks at Doomben.
Winning Ways’ owner Paul Makin, 82, died at the weekend but the filly will race in his company’s name.
Makin was highly regarded in Australia and internationally and was a close friend of Winning Ways’ trainer Garry Newham.
After a successful career as a punter, Makin turned to ownership with his best Australian horse the Newham-trained Starcraft who was a Group One winner in Australia and New Zealand before also winning in elite company in Europe.
Makin also owned the top galloper Chicquita who won the Group One Irish Oaks.
Newham had a break from training a decade ago and it was Makin who lured him back with four well-bred horses.
“Paul was always a terrific supporter. He had a great eye for a horse and a very good person to have as a friend, ” he said.
“I would obviously like to win a Group One for him. It will be an emotional race.”
Winning Ways has been their best horse since Newham’s return with six wins and $179,000 prize money.
She showed she was up to top class when she won the Group Three Gold Coast Bracelet (1800m) on a wet track two starts back.
Winning Ways was then beaten about 2-1/2 lengths when eighth to Etana in The Roses (2000m) at Doomben two weeks ago.
“It was a good solid run and she got back and deep from a wide barrier,” Newham said.
“I was as happy as you can be when you don’t run a place.
“I thought she finished as well as anything and the step up to 2200 metres on Saturday will be ideal. One thing I have never worried about is her as a stayer.
“When she beat older horses a couple of runs back I knew we had a genuine Oaks filly.”
Newham has pointed out Makin bought Winning Ways as an Queensland Oaks horse on her breeding as she is by the former European star Declaration Of War out of the Galileo mare Skip Along.
“If the race had been over 2400 metres at Eagle Farm it would have been even better,” Newham said.
“But I have no fears wet or dry. She handles all types of tracks.”
The Queensland Oaks was once a hoodoo race for Queensland-trained horses dating back to 1982 with Mother Of Pearl’s win.
Mon Mekki won for Gerald Ryan in 2002 when he was training at the Gold Coast.
In 2014 Tinto won the Oaks for Toowoomba’s Rex Lipp and since then, while not winning, Queensland fillies have been competitive in the race.