By Ray Hickson
All good things come to end and for jockey Kathy O’Hara she’d like nothing more than to give Single Gaze a fairy tale ending.
The five-year-old’s trainer Nick Olive announced earlier this week that Saturday’s Group 1 $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick would be Single Gaze’s swansong and, naturally, that comes with a tinge of sadness for O’Hara.
The pair have been through plenty together, including the nasty fall in the 2016 Australian Oaks that left O’Hara with concussion and a collapsed lung, but, aside from the fall, O’Hara says she wouldn’t change a thing.
“She’s by far and away my favourite horse she’s ridden and probably will be for a long time,’’ O’Hara said.
“She’s been amazing, she has such a following behind her. It’s been good for my career, she’s a positive not just for me but for Nick and the owners.
“I really would have loved to win a race this preparation with her but a Sydney Cup will do.’’
O’Hara and Single Gaze have gone to battle together in 29 of the mare’s 33 starts and despite the fact she’s been winless this season it has arguably been her best.
The mare was purchased for $70,000 and has returned over $2.3 million with the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes her major win. Though many would suggest her supreme moment was second in last year’s Caulfield Cup.
She contested a Magic Millions and Golden Slipper as a two-year-old and O’Hara recalled her first impression when she was called up to ride the then filly on debut at Rosehill where she was the despised outsider at $81 and got the cash.
“Nick brought her up to Rosehill after one trial and they didn’t fancy her that much,’’ she said.
“She was in a tough two-year-old race and Exosphere was favourite. I was called up for the ride and just stuck.
No words, just love ❤️ 🦄 pic.twitter.com/r30ysX0FPN
— Kathy O'Hara (@Kathy_ohara) October 21, 2017
“I couldn’t have said then she would have got to the places she has but she won from a hopeless position that day and it takes a good horse to do that.
“She’s been the best she has been this preparation, gone to another level. As sad as it is that she is retiring, I’m pleased for the horse she goes out in the form she’s in.’’
Single Gaze has recorded Group 1 placings in the Orr Stakes and Ranvet Stakes this autumn, plus a Group 2 Peter Young placing, and Saturday’s Sydney Cup will be her second attempt at two miles.
She ran fifth in the Group 1 Kia Tancred Stakes (2400m) on March 31 and O’Hara said the performance told her that the marathon trip is within her grasp.
Punters Intel shows Single Gaze ran her last 600m in 35.70, a respectable time considering the winner Almandin clocked 35.61.
“I thought her run was still pretty good,’’ she said.
“They had the blinkers off, she’s a lazy horse and takes a bit of riding but I think with them back on it will make a big difference.
“I think she’s going into it better than she was going into the Melbourne Cup. The preparation has been better overall and I feel like her last run was good enough.
Single Gaze runs a brave second to Gailo Chop in the Ranvet Stakes Rosehill on March 24
“In the Melbourne Cup there was plenty that went wrong for her, she got buffeting early and pulled up lame so I don’t think she showed her best. We rode her conservatively to get the two miles and none of it panned out for her.’’
O’Hara plans to ride Single Gaze in a much more forward position compared to last year’s Melbourne Cup but she’ll have work to do after the mare drew the outside barrier in the capacity 20 horse field.
That draw saw TAB drift her price to $21.
Only four mares have won the Sydney Cup in the last 30 years, the latest being Jessicabeel in 2010, and the only five-year-old mare was the great Makybe Diva in 2004.
“To win would be amazing so that’s what we are going for.’’