Epsom partnership can become racing royalty in the King Charles III Stakes

Growing up, Kathy O’Hara was constantly around horses, but they were of the pony rather than thoroughbred kind.

When the ponies wouldn’t run fast enough, she gravitated to horses that would.

It led to her becoming a champion apprentice jockey in 2004-05 and eventually a fully-fledged rider in Sydney during an era when women in racing weren’t the norm.

“I didn’t have a racing background, I just fumbled my way into it from going too fast on my ponies,” O’Hara said.

“I ended up going to ride work and learned how to do proper pacework and learned how fast I was going and then I got hooked on it and I loved it from then.

“I grew up on a horse and I still have a couple of horses at home that I do jumping with. I ride them most days before I come to the races, so it is all horse driven.”

One of those horses O’Hara cares for is recently retired star Nature Strip.

She has another who she rides in show jumping competitions on her days off, a passion as dear as race riding.

“The other horse I’ve got at home apart from Nature Strip, I bred her,” O’Hara said.

“She’s competing up to about one metre thirty, one metre forty so she is doing a really good job.”

O’Hara will turn the adrenalin up a notch when she heads to Randwick for four rides on Everest Day, headed by the Chris Waller-trained Rediener in the $5 million King Charles III Stakes (1600m).

The gelding gave O’Hara her third Group 1 win a fortnight ago in the Epsom Handicap where he carried just 50kg and she is thrilled connections have entrusted her to again partner him for his first test at weight-for-age.

“Being a weight-for-age race, it’s a ride anybody could have had with 58-1/2 (kilos), so I am really grateful to keep the ride and be given an opportunity,” O’Hara said.

“He’s not as well suited under the weight-for-age scale, obviously, and he’s up against horses who are proven like Fangirl.

“But he has drawn well (barrier one), so that’s a real positive for him and hopefully he can end up in a similar position to what he did last time.”

The King Charles III Stakes (1600m) has been added to this year’s Everest program for the first time.

Formerly known as the George Main Stakes (1600m) and run prior to the Epsom Handicap, it has undergone a major revamp and prizemoney injection, and the changes appears to have worked with the race attracting a star-studded field.

The Epsom trifecta of Rediener, Kovalica and Golden Mile will all line up, alongside top weight-for-age performers Think It Over, Zaaki and Fangirl while multiple Group 1 winner Mr Brightside has been lured from Victoria for the race.

About RS NewsWire

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