The season is winding down and as each week goes by the yard gets a little quieter as the horses start to go away for their winter breaks. That being said there are still plenty of the team still in training and ready to fire. Obviously as the winter months fast approach the weather is turning but thankfully Newcastle is just a short journey away to provide a good surface, one which Dori Road thrived one when she took the 1 Mile Ramside Hall Hotel Fillies Handicap, her first career win.
Mrs Clodagh McStay doesn’t have too many in training as her and her husband John run a fine breeding operation at Oaklawn Stud. They enjoyed a few good days out with Kevin when Captain Ramius was in training, especially the highlight of winning the Ayr Gold Cup. It was great to get the pink silks back into action last season when Doria Road arrived at Hambleton Lodge. She always looked like a filly who would do better with time and so after 3 pleasing runs as a juvenile, Doria was put away to let her grow and strengthen.
Her form this year has been good but she seemed to go one good run followed by a slightly weaker effort. After starting her season with a good third over an inadequate trip of 6f it did look like a win would be coming sooner rather than later. Stepping up to 7f next time she ran well but failed to really build on the promise shown finishing sixth but shaping as though another step up in trip would be needed. Her following three starts would be over 1 mile and resulted in two very good third placed finishes with a weaker effort in between.
As the weather worsened and with form on the all-weather, Kevin was aiming for the artificial surface for Doria and when the 1 mile event came up at Newcastle it looked perfect. The stiff track was though to suit her and with little change in her handicap mark since receiving it, the race looked well withing her capabilities. There were nine declarations for the race and despite a good effort last time out, Doria was the 16-1 outsider of the field. This may have been due to her pattern of one good run one below par but it didn’t put connections being quietly confident.
Having ridden the winner in the previous race, Shane Gray was looking for a quick fire double as he got legged up on the filly. Doria had previously raced with differing tactics so it was left up to Shane, although positive would be preferred. Jumping well from stall 3 she went forward and got into stride to push for the lead. There were a couple who wanted to take the lead and it was the favourite who took over to take the field along towards the centre of the track. It was a steady pace and Shane just tucked in to track the favourite and sit in third position.
The steady pace allowed the whole field travel smoothly and were quite bunched up away from the leader. Doria went nicely, which was expected on the surface. Shane was tracking the right horse and being close up would give him first view on any changes from the front. Usually with a steady early pace it can turn into a sprint come the final couple of furlongs which means the place to be is up towards the front, exactly where Shane was sat.
Moving down towards halfway and all the nine runners still went well with no movement just yet. The leader was not being pressured so dictated throughout, still not exerting too much as the pace remained sedate. The order was still the same but as they moved from the 4f to 3f the first changes began. Now the favourite, Corked, began to increase the tempo slowly winding it up from the front. Shane matched this to keep within touching distance and it was a few of the back markers who were starting to work harder in an attempt to close the gap.
From a sedate pace and little excitement the race completely changed in complexion. Corked had been allowed to do as they liked throughout and this had caught a few on the hop. The sudden increase to a sprint meant those held up began to be outpaced initially and so the leader stole a march. Shane began to niggle away to trying to get Doria to lengthen heading to the 2f marker. Jafetica, who had been tracking Doria, came through to join in and it was these three who had a small break to the rest of the field. The race was to be settled by who could see the trip out best and over power their two rivals.
Moving to the final furlong and the three were in a line with none yet to give an inch. All were under full drive but it was Shane who was just getting the better response. Doria was now in full flow and just edged her nose into the lead. Jafetica was the one who cracked first and just weakened away a little from the new leader. The favourite Corked was trying hard along the rail and had not been beaten off. With a neck lead Shane sensed he was the one who had more in the tank and carried on asking for it. Doria was finding more in front and was stronger the further they went. Repelling the brave favourite she started to power away. Striding out strongly she crossed the line to earn a length victory.
It was very pleasing to get a first win for Doria Road and she deserved it after some good efforts. She has shown a liking for the artificial surface so a winter campaign could well be in order. Having travelled well she saw out the trip well and was stronger at the finish then all her rivals. It did look as though she may be able to get further than this trip and it may be an option for connections moving forward. With a good pedigree it is great to get a win for Doria as a possible breeding future. Now she has that first win it could well be a platform to build on and hopefully she can build on a good performance.