Dear Demi's trainer dismisses criticism for racing the filly

SYDNEY trainer Clarry Conners has rejected criticism of his decision to race star filly Dear Demi for the third week in succession in tomorrow's $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m).

The daughter of Dehere won The Roses (2000m) at Doomben on May 18, before last week's sixth to Hawkspur in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Eagle Farm.

Conners, who won the race with Zagalia in 2003 and Allow in 2006, said Dear Demi proved she could back up by taking out the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) at Flemington last spring, before claiming the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) just five days later.

"The Roses was her first run in three weeks so I had to back her up in the Grand Prix before she ran in the Oaks,"Conners said.

"I've got no concerns at all about the quick back-up. She loves it."

If successful, Dear Demi would be just the third filly to claim the Victorian and Queensland Oaks double, joining Slight Chance (1992-93) and November Rain (1980-81).

Leading Sydney jockey Nash Rawiller will replace Luke Nolen on Dear Demi, with Nolen required for the Peter Moody-trained Miss Zenella.

Tattsbet has listed the Conners-trained galloper favourite at $3.40 to take out the classic, with Victorian filly Gondokoro at $4.20 and the Kris Lees-trained Express Power the only other runner in single figures at $9.

Gondokoro, trained at Mornington by Pat Carey, ran third to Kiwi filly Royal Descent in the ATC Oaks (2400m) at Randwick on April 20, before an unlucky second to Dear Demi in The Roses when jockey Rhys McLeod unsuccessfully protested against the winner.

Carey said the daughter of Zabeel had come through the race in top order, the only concern being the barrier one draw considering the filly liked to race back in the field.

"She's in good order, she worked well Tuesday morning on the course proper and recovered well from the gallop," Carey said.

"I've done everything I want to do with her, she's held her form since Doomben and hopefully she goes into the race and has a trouble free run.

"You get a barrier and you've got to deal with it. You would think she's going to be in the second half of the field, so she just needs to be able to negotiate a bit of traffic at some stage."

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