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O’Hara wants fond farewell on Single Gaze

kathy o'hara
Jockey Kathy O’Hara is hoping to send Single Gaze into retirement with a Sydney Cup win.

Kathy O’Hara is looking to the positives as she prepares to ride Single Gaze for the final time in the Sydney Cup.

O’Hara threw her arms up in mock exasperation after drawing the outside barrier for her favourite horse on Tuesday.

Saturday’s Sydney Cup (3200m) will be the mare’s racing swan song, but considering what they have been through, it is a minor irritation.

“I didn’t come up with a plan for barrier 21,” O’Hara said.

She was quick to accentuate the positive, revisiting Single Gaze’s previous run over 3200m in last year’s Melbourne Cup.

The pair, who have been together for 29 of the mare’s 33 starts, came out of barrier 11 of 23 at Flemington and toughed it out from pillar to post before running 17th.

“She was a bit sore after that. She was knocked around a bit in the middle so I didn’t really want to be on the inside where she’d be cluttered up,” O’Hara said.

“She won’t be getting that this time.”

O’Hara was in the saddle for Single Gaze’s Group One success in the 2016 Vinery Stud Stakes and was optimistic the Nick Olive-trained five-year-old could bow out in style.

“In the Melbourne Cup we were probably a little bit conservative trying to get her the run the 3200. We’ll let her be followed this time and if she’s good enough, she’s good enough,” she said.

Topweight for the $2 million staying feature, 2016 Melbourne Cup winner Almandin drew barrier five for owner Lloyd Williams and jockey Damien Oliver.

A last-start winner of the Group One Tancred Stakes, Almandin ($4) maintained his favouritism with the TAB on Tuesday.

New Zealander Sir Charles Road, who backs up after winning the Group Two Chairman’s Quality (2600m) at Randwick last Saturday, shortened from $9 to the $6.50 second elect after being allocated barrier four.

Single Gaze drifted from $15 to $21 after the draw but O’Hara was undeterred as she focused on her last ride on a horse with whom she has shared the ups and down of racing.

Although the Vinery Stud Stakes victory was followed by a fall in the Australian Oaks that left O’Hara with serious injuries, she has nothing but admiration for Single Gaze.

“She’s nothing if not tough and she’s been great for my career,” she said. “I’d love to go out on a high with her.

The Kris Lees-trained Doukhan was promoted into the field after Lindsay Park-trained mare Fanatic was withdrawn because of a leg injury detected after track work at Randwick on Tuesday.

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