Oak Door shuts out rivals in perfect return
Although Oak Door started at $31, his odds belied his stable's confidence he could return from a 10-month spell with a win in the Group 3 Sir John Monash Stakes (1100m).
Oak Door, backed from $41 into $31, was able to run down crowd favourite Jungle Edge, who tried valiantly to lead throughout.
Oak Door is trained by John Sadler, but he had to leave the course due to feeling unwell.
Sadler's assistant trainer Ernie Marchant said they were confident Oak Door could run well based on his trials and trackwork.
"We were very confident," Marchant said. "I said to Ben Melham before the race that it would map perfectly for you. He can sit behind the leaders and get cover and he loves the going."
Marchant said they were worried Oak Door could be vulnerable, though, and his last words to Melham were to produce "a Benny special".
"I'm so excited for the owners," Marchant said. "They've been very patient and it's been a fantastic training effort by John."
Surprise winner Oak Door wears down Jungle Edge who was brave in defeat in the John Monash Stakes! pic.twitter.com/3EvPc4DrMU— Racing.com (@Racing) July 13, 2019
Oak Door was originally trained by Robert Smerdon and was transferred to Sadler when he was disqualified. He had four starts for the new stable and didn't fire in any of them. His last run was in October last year.
Marchant said Sadler decided a long spell would be the best way to bring him back to form and went back to the drawing board, which had paid dividends.
He said Oak Door had been trialling well on wet tracks and they expected he would run a big race. Marchant said Oak Door would continue to improve and would be better suited over 1400m.
Melham said he thought Oak Door couldn't run poorly on what he had produced in his trials but was worried he could be vulnerable late.
"He didn't have to do too much into that head-breeze," Melham said. "He was in striking distance and I thought he was going to peak but he fought on really well."
Apprentice Michael Poy almost made it three wins from three rides on Jungle Edge but went down by a head. "They didn't let us skip away," Poy said. "He ran a super race. They got to us 300m from home and he kept on fighting all the way to be beaten only a head."