She’s yet to win over greater than her pet sprint distance of 1100-metres but Mrs Onassis has what it takes to step up and be competitive in this weekend’s $125,000 Group 3 Missile Stakes (1200m) in Sydney according to her trainer Gerald Ryan.
Back in February during the Melbourne Festival of Racing, General Nediym mare Mrs Onassis scored her biggest turf triumph to date winning the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (100m) first-up at Caulfield.
She beat plenty of talented runners too including second place-getter Facile Tigre, and didn’t have it all her way having to jump from barrier 11 of 13.
Things have been pretty dismal for the now six-year-old since however with Mrs Onassis finishing eighth or worse in her next three starts.
The latest of those was a disappointing first-up effort back at Caulfield on July 13.
There she went back to her Oakleigh Plate track and distance for the Listed Sir John Monash Stakes (1100m) but could only manage to finish six lengths away eighth to Pago Rock.
It was a poor result, but one Ryan wasn’t altogether unprepared for having heard from jockey Brenton Avdulla that morning with same bad news.
“He walked the track that morning and then he rang me up and said the track wouldn’t suit her,” Ryan told AAP this week.
“He thought it was worse than the dead five it was rated that day.”
Ryan is now looking for improvement from the half-a-million-dollar-earner, and a guide to what grand final goal Mrs Onassis will ultimately be suited to this spring.
He’s also unperturbed about what the statistics and history says on her form over the 1200m.
“Statistics are only what you want to make them,” Ryan said.
“The last time she ran over 1200 was in the Sapphire Stakes (in April) and she never got a crack at them anywhere.
“She’s never won at 1200 but now she’s an older mare she is racing a bit more relaxed.”
Mrs Onassis, drawn in gate four with Kerrin McEvoy to replace the suspended Avdulla, pays around $17 in the markets for the Missile.
It’s a good position for her to start from too according to Ryan, who is also happy enough to have McEvoy reunite with the mare after riding her to victory in the Oakleigh.
“She should get a gun run third or fourth behind the leaders and she’s got a Group One jockey on,” he said.
“Hopefully the weather stays the same and the track doesn’t get any worse.”
The odds-on favourite meanwhile is resuming speedster Rain Affair fresh off a nine and a half length winning trial.
Joe Pride’s galloper, unlike Mrs Onassis, is well suited to a soft track and would actually advantage from a bit of rain.
Also in the mix are the likes of veteran three-time Group 1 winner Hay List and the Paul Messara-trained Mic Mac coming back to weight-for-age with 58.5kg after carrying 59kg and 60.5kg for their two most recent runs.
If successful in upsetting her male counterparts, Mrs Onassis become just the third mare in the past two decades to win the Missile – which kicks off Group racing for the new season.
The most recent was Pompeii back in 2003 with the other to do so before her being Klokka who went back-to-back in 1993 and 94.