WHEN Bathurst trainer-driver Robert Clifford attended the annual Gold Crown Yearling Sales two years ago, only one of the lots he had interest in suited his price range.
He felt he was lucky to have been able to purchase that Shadow Play x Totally Radical filly, but on Sunday at Dubbo he got a whole lot luckier.
The filly named Oakridge Mae, in just her second start for Clifford, saluted in the Radio 2DU/Zoo FM Pace (1,720 metres) as a $91.50 chance.
“That’s the biggest odds I’ve won at by far, I think too because she’d only had the one start and the rest of the field had had 10 or more,” Clifford said.
“I was definitely surprised. Obviously I don’t know the prices [beforehand], but when I came back to scale I heard the commentator say $91, I thought ‘Oh well, that’s alright.’”
Clifford, who currently has three horses in work, returned to Dubbo on Sunday after steering Oakridge Mae to ninth at the same track on her debut.
Coming from three wide on the second row, Clifford’s filly found herself in the chasing pack after Jogalong Dee and Always At Night zipped off the front early.
But as the race unfolded, Clifford became more optimistic of an improvement on Oakridge Mae’s debut.
“She was off the second row following the three horse out and she followed through okay and got herself a position. Then the front two horses, they were running, they were a fair way in front of the rest of us, probably about four lengths in front of us the whole way,” Clifford said.
“Coming up to the winning post [for the first time], I had to pull the ear plugs then because she wasn’t travelling all that crash hot and I had to start driving her a bit. But once I did, she responded really good and starting chasing them.
“I thought I might run fourth and I thought that would be alright, then I thought I might get a third, then the two that were running in front came back to us pretty quickly. I just kept her rolling and she caught them.
“When we straightened up for home I was hoping she’d keep running and she did.”
Oakridge Mae went on to win by 5.8m over the Greg Rue trained Pretty Foxy ($14.30), who had come from fifth on the bell. Jogalong Dee ($5.90) was a half head back in third.
“It was quite pleasing and I think the best thing to come out of it was that she learnt from the start before, how to race a bit,” Clifford said.
“As far as racing ability goes, she has still got a bit to learn in that respect. But the actually ability she’s got, well she showed a bit of it there and hopefully she can keep improving.
“It is nice to win one, especially when you’ve been getting up at 4.30 each morning. It has been a while since I’ve trained a winner, so it’s good to get one. It makes you feel like your work is paying off.”