Pedigree is one thing, performance another. At Dapto on Thursday night, the fashionably bred Oaks Road snared the Megastar and, while only just out of restricted company, the black dog now heads into the National Sprint series at Wentworth Park as one of NSW's leading lights.
In its second year, the Megastar is similar to The Meadows' invitation-only Topgun, but Dapto has five places for invitees, while the qualifiers come through a prelude. Oaks Road, having never raced at Dapto, might not have secured a place in a top race at the famous Dapto Showground track had it been left to GRNSW's grading policy. "We knew we had to do something special to get him noticed [by the selection panel]," trainer Mark Gatt said. "And that's how the solo trial [at Dapto on July 7] came about … it was his chance to put time on the board and his 29.67 [seconds] effort certainly did that."
The 520-metre trial time was only 0.14s outside Fool To Cry's track record and it was a moderate start that made the difference between a quick time and a record-breaking run. "His first section [to the winning post] in the trial was only 5.54, when, by himself, 5.44 might have been on the cards," Gatt said. "It was his first ever look at Dapto, however, and we had to be pleased. In the end, it did the job [getting him noticed] and we were seeded straight into the race."
But this $25,000-to-the-winner contest was no walkover with Golden Easter Egg winner Radley Bale perched in box one, defending Megastar champ Mr Metz - a group 1 winner at Albion Park - back from an injury-enforced break, local star More Space, rampant Megastar prelude winner Street Boss and the smart Mythical Eagle having claims. "He began only moderately [from box three] but when he was able to push past Radley Bale at the first turn and then get under Undisputed Dos before the 600-metre boxes, I started to think we really had a chance. Mr Metz was being collared by Mythical Eagle but Oaks Road then peeled off his heels and I thought he might have lost momentum and any chance [of winning]. Fortunately, he did keep his momentum up and ended up getting there by a half-length."
Oaks Road's record is seven wins and eight placings from 18 starts. The son of Irish legend Spiral Nikita has a stud dog's pedigree and the potential to win at the top level. Some will compare Oaks Road and Things Missing - their times on the track are not dissimilar. Sadly for the appropriately named Things Missing, he is lacking the equipment to even get a chance at stud.