Nowra preview: Okay Okay put to wet track test by Lee brothers

There is a reason Jim and Greg Lee’s Randwick stables are called Hayai Lodge.

Before the flood of European and Japanese stayers descended on Australia every spring, the locals all too frequently played second fiddle to New Zealand-bred stayers.

Chief among them was the Lee brothers’ Hayai.

A Metropolitan winner twice and Caulfield Cup winner, Hayai was as much jockey Neville Voigt’s horse as it was the Lees.

Now the trio is back as one via the regally-bred mare Okay Okay who heads to Nowra in search of her second win at her fourth start.

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“Neville comes to the stables and gives us a hand every morning,’’ co-trainer Greg Lee said.

“He has never changed, he is just a good bloke.’’

Okay Okay was able to do what Hayai couldn’t: win on debut.

The daughter of former Godolphin speed machine Kuroshio showed plenty of speed and desire to win her 1000m assignment at Goulburn in the winter.

Okay Okay was far less effective first-up in the summer when she finished with only one behind her on a Soft 7 track at Nowra on New Year’s Eve.

“I just think she wasn’t fit enough at her first run at Nowra,’’ Lee said.

“It’s two things though to be truthful, whether she wasn’t fit enough or she can’t handle the heavy and there is only one way to find out and that is to put her through it on Sunday.

“There is no excuse about her being fit now, so we will just see if it was the heavy that stopped her. Personally, I think she will get through it but we will soon see.

“On all her work, she should win,’’ Lee said. “And she’s honest.

“I think she will only get 1100m but, right now, 1000m is all she wants. It will take a pretty solid horse to get through the going; a horse that can run a nice strong 1100m.’’

The Lee brothers know only too well what makes Okay Okay tick given they trained the majority of her four winning siblings including the multiple city placegetter See The Snow.

Okay Okay’s dam, Crimson Joy, was unraced but has been a terrific brood mare with all five of her named foals having won at least one race.

Crimson Joy is well equipped to be such a faultless producer as her grand-dam is none other than Cap D’Antibes who was trained at Leilani Lodge just a short walk down High Street from Hayai Lodge.

“Bart Cummings trained her,’’ Lee said.

“I used to see her all the time. You would see her walk on to the track and people would say ‘that’s Cap D’Antibes’.’’

No wonder the daughter of then champion stallion Better Boy won 10 races including the VRC Newmarket-Lightning Stakes double as well as Flight Stakes and Marlboro Cup.

Cap D’Antibes was one of the first Australian mares to be exported to the northern hemisphere where she became a tremendously successful brood mare.

She ended up throwing six winners, including at stakes level, by legendary stallions Nureyev and Riverman.

Smart choice to dodge city start with Eurosay

Todd Smart’s decision to bypass a possible start in the TAB Highway at Randwick on Saturday should pay dividends when Eurosay heads to Nowra on Sunday.

Smart’s choice was in some way made for him given Eurosay was an emergency drawn in barrier 16.

But the trainer said that wasn’t the only reason he opted for Sunday’s McDonald’s Shoalhaven Handicap (1200m) instead of a trip to HQ.

“The biggest factor was Blaike McDougall to ride,’’ he said.

“He has had a good association with the horse and he is riding as well as anyone in NSW.’’

In fact, McDougall is riding better than anyone in NSW as reflected in his No.1 ranking on the statewide jockeys’ premiership this season.

Nowra, like Randwick, is going to be wet, and while Eurosay is yet to win on soft or heavy ground in eight attempts, he is no duffer.

“He has had a couple of wet-track runs down in Highways and he drew wide and got back and ran on. There is no issue with the wet track at all,’’ Smart said.

“He has barrier two and I just think it is the right race for him.’’

Eurosay is a horse who needs plenty to go his way as he usually races in the back half of the field.

His pattern is more or less reflected in his scorecard which reads just two wins from 33 starts but with a dozen placings.

“He is a horse that, if you go through his form, has consistently drawn badly and along the way he has had bad feet,’’ Smart said.

“He showed that last preparation, he ran pretty ordinary, so I tipped him out and got it sorted and his foot is on the till now.’’

Eurosay is a well-bred gelding, a chestnut like his sire Eurozone who won the Stan Fox for his legendary trainer Bart Cummings.

His dam, Magsaya, was also a stakes winner, in her case, for another immortal of the turf in Gai Waterhouse.

Eurosay’s fourth dam was the champion filly Princess Talaria whose major wins included the VATC One Thousand Guineas, the Gimcrack and Widden Stakes as well as the Marlboro Classic now known as the Coolmore Classic.

Originally published asNowra preview: Fitness won’t be an excuse, Okay

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