Racing: Fanatic wins Oaks on protest

Fanastic (outside) won the New Zealand Oaks at Trentham yesterday in the protest room. Photo / Race Images PNTH
Fanastic (outside) won the New Zealand Oaks at Trentham yesterday in the protest room. Photo / Race Images PNTH

Graeme Sanders is usually calm and collected before a big race, but he admitted to being on edge before the feature event at Trentham yesterday.

The Te Awamutu trainer had Fanatic in the group one Wellfield New Zealand Oaks and he certainly didn't share the market's doubts about his charge, who started at better than 60-1.

The longshot belied her odds and finished strongly to be beaten by the barest of margins with a subsequent protest reversing the result at the expense of the red-hot favourite Sofia Rosa.

"She deserved it and if she hadn't got the decision I would have been pretty upset," said Sanders, who prepares Fanatic with his daughter Debbie Sweeney.

"I had a lot of confidence in the filly and I honestly thought she could win, but I was so nervous and I don't normally get like that. Maybe it was because I hadn't won an Oaks before and that was the only one left - I've won all the big races now."

Fourth in the group three Lowland Stakes in her lead-up to Wellington, Fanatic settled back of midfield and once she got into the clear in the straight she rounded off strongly for rider Mark Hills.

The first group one winner for Rich Hill Stud stallion Shocking, Fanatic is raced by her breeder Sean Kiernan and was born and raised at Curraghmore, the Waikato nursery of his brother-in-law Gordon Cunningham.

Her dam is Kiernan's only broodmare Komplete Klass, a daughter of Groom Dancer who is a half-sister to the dam of the group one TJ Smith Classic winner Rockdale.

"Sean's the president of the Hawera Racing Club," Sanders said. "He's a long-standing client and I ring him every Friday night. He's my biggest supporter, he totally deserves this - it's just magic."

While naturally disappointed with the outcome of the Oaks, Sofia Rosa's second placing did confirm her as the winner of the NZB Filly of the Year title.

- Herald on Sunday

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