Mat Rue might have stolen the headlines with a winning treble at Dubbo Paceway on Sunday but there was plenty of excitement around Robert Clifford when he scored a stunning upset with Oakridge Mae.
The Bathurst trainer-driver felt lucky to pick up a Shadow Play x Totally Radical filly at the annual Gold Crown Yearling Sales two years ago, but on Sunday he got a whole lot luckier. Oakridge Mae, in just her second start, won the Radio 2DU/Zoo FM Pace (1720m) 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, with just three horses in work, returned to Dubbo 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 took off early.
But as the race unfolded, Clifford became more optimistic of an improvement on Oakridge Mae’s debut.
“I thought I might run fourth … 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,” he said.
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.”