The lightweight Doncaster Mile chance is back in fashion in a move that could change the fortunes for one of Sydney’s most popular jockeys.
Injury has robbed Kathy O’Hara of momentum going into a revamped autumn carnival and her luck didn’t improve when her mount in last week’s Newmarket Handicap was a late withdrawal.
But O’Hara heads to Randwick on Saturday for three rides optimistic it won’t be too long before she can re-establish herself after losing almost two months of the season because of race falls.
Nobody in racing could argue O’Hara deserves a genuine break at the moment – one that doesn’t hurt as much the wrist fracture in January that put her out for five weeks.
The fact she was booked for Va Pensiero at 50kg in the Newmarket might augur well for her chances of picking up a Doncaster Mile runner at the same weight.
O’Hara went close to winning another another famous Randwick mile race when she rode Johan’s Toy into second place in the 2005 Epsom Handicap with 51.5kg.
Since then there has been an increase in the minimum handicap but in a reversal of that trend the Doncaster Mile limit has been set 50kg next month.
“It’s good to see the Doncaster back as a true handicap,” O’Hara said.
“When they put the weights up it made it an advantage for the heavier jockeys because they don’t have to ride as light.
“It gives me a chance now to get out there and find a good horse with a light weight and see if I can get on it.”
One of O’Hara’s biggest supporters, Warwick Farm trainer Jason Coyle, prepares the best prospect of her three Randwick mounts.
Underrated filly Flight Academy takes on the boys in the Fireball Stakes and there has been money to suggest she can play a part in the finish.
“I’m looking forward to riding her in something a little bit further because I think she’s capable of winning a really nice race,” O’Hara said.
“But it wouldn’t surprise me to see her blouse them although I think she will be better off over 1300 and 1400 metres.”