Despite high Victorian numbers, the 2014 Group Two WA Oaks winner was the WA trained Free Candy. Sportingbet rated her as a $5.00 chance in early fixed odds markets, which looked like fantastic value from the suitable draw.
Trainer Steve Withers’ love for his brindle chaser isn’t just because she brought home a $40,000 cheque, rather the bravery she showed after getting dragged down by Oakvake Destiny (box one) during the race and then soldiering on.
“I thought we were both going back to the tail of the field!” Trainer Steve Withers explained.
“She was very brave, it just shows how gutsy she is. She is really tough, another half an inch in the interference and she falls. We were lucky!”
Boxrise saw $2.10 favourite Oakvale Destiny not surprisingly miss the start allowing Free Candy from box two to shoot to the front of the field with a first sectional time of 5.70. Quick jumping Mepunga Moss crossed in front of the field from box eight to join Free Candy and Oakvale Destiny in the lead. The rest of the field was spread out along to the rails.
With Free Candy, Oakvale Destiny and Mepunga Moss breaking away from the already spread out field the lead changed between the three after Oakvale Destiny dragged down Free Candy’s back end, causing the pair to loose momentum. It wasn’t long until Free Candy reclaimed her lead and momentum, pulling away to win by two and a half lengths in a new personal best time of 30.45; lowering her time by 0.01 of a second. Mepunga Moss (box eight) held on for second while Victorian kennelmates Oakvale Destiny and Mepunga Hayley held on for third and fourth respectively.
“I was very confident after she came out of the boxes because I know how strong she is, but the red has exceptional mid race acceleration.”
After a number of sensational performances in the past month, winning six of her last seven races, the daughter of Collision – Ball Cheryl will now make the transition to the staying ranks.
“I think she is more suited as a 700 metre dog, so to pick herself up to make a second effort during the race was great.”
Last week Free Candy recorded the fastest qualifying time which placed her as second favourite, paying $4.50 at boxrise despite the high class of bitches that made the trip West.
The 27kg bitch made her 19th start a special one by increasing her earnings to over $64,000. Her Oaks win was the second for owner Damon Fardig, who took out the honours in 2010 with the Ben Abercrombie trained Rock Pool.