Here Comes The Bride…Oohood Takes Flight

Oohood breaks through for her first Group One win in the Flight Stakes at Randwick (Lisa Grimm)

The eyes of the world – quite literally – were on Oohood as she entered the straight in Saturday’s Group One Darley Flight Stakes over 1600m at Royal Randwick.

Leading into the Flight, the I Am Invincible filly was regarded the best maiden in Australia with her previous nine starts yielding four seconds and two thirds, including near misses in the Golden Slipper, Sires’ Produce and Blue Diamond.

However, there was no denying Oohood this time as she hit the line strongly to overhaul Fiesta in a thriller. Nothing like breaking your duck in a Group One!

Still, even as she loomed large nearing the finish, trainer Tony McEvoy thought to himself “oh no, not again”, worried that his much loved filly might be denied yet again.

He was hardly Robinson Crusoe … indeed, they were also sentiments shared by owner, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum as he watched the race on TV in Dubai, while the Sheikh’s racing manager, Tim Stakemire, had a couple of nervous moments too hunched over a computer screen in London.

“It’s fantastic to have shed the ‘bridesmaid’ tag and especially in a race like the Flight,” Stakemire enthused. “She really is a terrific filly and it’s just great to see everything went her way on Saturday.”

A daughter of the Yarraman Park Stud based I Am Invincible (who snared a quinella in the race via Fiesta and his 35th stakes winner earlier in the day courtesy of exciting 2YO, Catch Me), Oohood is out of the multiple winning Sunday Silence mare, Bella Sunday.

“That was Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s fifth Group One winner in Australia and it’s actually his favourite place to race horses,” Stakemire, a former top class polo player, reveals. “He comes out to Australia every year for the Easter Yearling Sale and is very much involved in all the broodmare matings and sales purchases.

“Adding to the thrill of Saturday’s win is the fact that Oohood, like (dual Group One winning 2YO) Pride of Dubai, is a homebred.

“The overall operation has approximately 30 horses in England, 10 in North America, 40 in South Africa, 70 in Argentina and over 100 in Australia. The Australian horses consist of 50 broodmares, about 20 racehorses, another 20 or so juveniles that are coming through, plus 30 yearlings from Pride of Dubai’s first crop.

“It’s quite remarkable when you think about it, considering he started with no horses at all in Australia just 14 years ago!”

Although Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s vast Aussie broodmare band offers a heady mix of black type from both hemispheres, Oohood’s family is predominantly ‘local’.

Despite Oohood’s dam, Bella Sunday, being a daughter of Japanese superstar, Sunday Silence, the mare is a half sister to leading sire, Not a Single Doubt and to the stakes placed dam of last month’s Group Three Up And Coming Stakes winner, Master Ash and multiple stakes winning 2YO, Come Hither, while her dam, Singles Bar, is a half sister to massive speed influence Snippets.

Bella Sunday was purchased by Stakemire for $130,000 at the 2013 Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale and she has now produced eight winners from eight to race, including the multiple stakes placed, Breakfast in Bed.

“She’s been a terrific mare and is currently in foal to (Kitchwin Hills Group winner) Sooboog and will likely be covered this spring by (Group One winning 2YO) Caravaggio, who stands alongside Pride of Dubai at Coolmore.”

HOOFNOTE: Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum is the Minister of Land Affairs in Dubai and first cousin of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.