Godolphin’s Darren Beadman has been involved in many tight finishes as a jockey and he was not about to put his head on the chopping block when Ranier and Live And Free hit the line together in the Festival Stakes.
Just as Brenton Avdulla looked like he had stolen victory by zipping up along the fence aboard Live And Free, Kathy O’Hara on Ranier charged late in Godolphin’s royal blue colours to get the verdict.
“They call me Splinters, I was sitting on the fence,” Beadman said
“We had our head up and it had its head down.
“It was a lovely ride by Kathy and I think where she won it was when she didn’t let Testashadow cross her (early), she was able to roll into the race nice.”
O’Hara positioned Ranier behind the speed set by Renewal then slipped around the leader’s heels to get clear running in the straight.
She momentarily thought she had pulled the wrong rein when she spied Live And Free getting up on the rails.
“I got off the leaders heels thinking I was doing the right thing to give him a good run in the race and I saw the second horse fly up the inside and I thought, oh I’ve given the run away to the winner here’,” O’Hara said.
“But he was really good, he knuckled down late and was strong.”
The Group Three Festival Stakes (1500m) win was one to savour for O’Hara, who missed the bulk of the spring carnival after being suspended for using her mobile telephone in the jockeys room on numerous occasions.
There was no integrity issue surrounding her ban, and after a beautiful winning ride aboard Aqua D’Ivinia at Kembla Grange last week, O’Hara put the icing on the cake aboard Ranier.
“It’s good to be back. I rode a winner last weekend and this one here today,” O’Hara said.
Beadman said the fact O’Hara was a natural lightweight was an advantage for Ranier who carried 53kg.
“Kathy is nice and kind on the horses and they respond well for her,” Beadman said.
“He had a light weight and she didn’t have to waste for him so they’re just that little bit stronger over the concluding stages.”
Head trainer James Cummings will see how Ranier comes through the race but Beadman says the horse will most likely head to the Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on December 14.
Ranier ($6 equal fav) scored by a half head from Live And Free , who was backed from $15 into $8, with another 1-3/4 lengths to Cellarman ($26).
Wearing blinkers for the first time, Avdulla felt Live And Free did not see Ranier out wide.
“They really helped him to take those runs on the fence and if the horse had come next to him I think he kicks and wins,” Avdulla said.
Bobbing started an equal favourite and made late ground for sixth without threatening.