Orange County Takes Number Six for Oliver
A large contender field of eighteen horses entered into the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes that took place at Caulfield on Saturday, 20 September 2008. In post position fourteen stood a beautiful grey horse that had been plagued by misfortune throughout his career, but was waiting patiently for the starting gates to swing open to prove to the world that he had what it takes to be a champion. As Orange County started out the gates, a nervous and excited trainer, Brian Mayfield-Smith, watched anxiously as the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes got underway.
Mayfield-Smith was pleased to have Damien Oliver in the saddle, as he had enjoyed numerous victories in this massive 1 400 meter horse racing event. He won it for the first time in 1990 aboard Submariner (also his first Group 1 victory of his career), and with others such as Mannerism in 1992, Poetic King in 1994 and Encosta De Lago in 1996. On Saturday, Orange Country dug in deep to give Oliver his sixth victory in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.
Oliver and Orange County paced themselves through the first part of the race, allowing other horses to battle for the lead and against the head wind. As soon as Oliver saw the opportunity, he started easing Orange County past the other contenders and allowed his mount to charge full steam in the lead towards the wire. The moment they crossed the finish line, Oliver celebrated their victory by raising his whip and the smile on his face said it all. Following Orange County home, in position order, were: Bon Hoffa, Turffontein, Pillar of Hercules, Valedictum, Here De Angels, Dorabella, Serious Speed, Eskimo Queen, Rubyscent, Marching, Our Smoking Joe, Kingda Ka, Swick, Alexander of Hales, Gotta Have Heart, J’adane and Friday Creek.
Orange County has now won nine of his thirty-two career starts and it is likely that Mayfield-Smith will be looking at entering him into the 1 600 meter Toorak Handicap that will be held in October. An elated Brain Mayfield-Smith was quoted after the race, saying that Orange County is at his best at the moment, that he had never lost faith in his horse and that he was confident going into the race that it was going to be Orange County’s day, and indeed it was.