Cathy’s Mark won very impressively at just her second start in September 2014. Twelve months and nine starts later, it was somewhat surprising to see just the sole victory next to her name.
But that all changed at Ballarat on Thursday afternoon, when she knuckled down for a solid win in today’s Fillies and Mares Benchmark 78 at Ballarat (1600m).
Of course, since September 2014 Cathy’s Mark placed at Moonee Valley and then placed again at Morphettville in the Listed Laelia Stakes in May. Her fourth in the Listed Auraria Stakes in Adelaide was followed by a creditable run in the Group 1 Schweppes Oaks behind in form filly Delicacy. So there were no concerns regarding her ability.
But there have been some concerns at times, with Cathy’s Mark prone to the nervous and/or electrolyte condition “the thumps” (synchronous diaphragmatic flutter). This is a little like the hiccups in us humans, not harmful in any way, but a sign of an electrolyte imbalance, dehydration or simply nerves. At times Cathy’s Mark can get a little worked up pre-race, and that is what happened at Flemington at her most recent start when last in the Group 2 Blazer Stakes.
A BM78 race at Ballarat is far from the pressure and competition in a Group race at Flemington, so Damien Oliver rode a tactical race to score a victory for her owners.
In the small field and with little pace on paper, Damien settled Cathy’s Mark just off the speed, contrary to some of her best races where she was ridden “cold” to maximise her sprint home. Her victory was more “workmanlike” than “explosive”, but that could be the type of victory she needs to build the confidence and go on with it in her career.
As she matures, we hope Cathy’s mark will be more comfortable and relaxed pre-race and during her races to allow her to conserve energy for her customary explosive closing sprint. Nigel now has pencilled in a 1700m race on Cup Day as her next assignment, or alternatively find another benchmark showcase for her at one of the lovely country meetings this time of year.
Congratulations to her owners, led by Dane Park Racing’s Tim Barrett, who are great supporters of Blackiston Racing.
Cathy’s Mark’s victory takes Blackiston Racing to nine wins since August 1st, at a pleasing strike rate of over 18%.