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By Graham Potter | Sunday, June 9, 2024

Top jockey. Top stable. A starting price of $101.

That doesn’t quite make sense after the fact ... but the fact remains that trainer Ciaron Maher, jockey Ryan Maloney and a horse named Socks Nation caused a massive boilover result in the Group 1 Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

“She didn’t have the traditional lead-up to the race as the others who were all in the market. So, it was difficult to place her, but she’s been running well enough to suggest she could run a race. Her form didn’t warrant her being that price,” said Maloney.

“Ciaron was happy enough beforehand. He said to me ‘don’t worry about the odds, she’ll run a lot better race than her odds suggest.

“The race panned out beautifully for her,” continued Maloney. “We went at a beautiful tempo. I just sat in second behind the Matthew Dunn horse (the $201 chance Oceans Of Energy). Damien Thornton (the rider of Oceans Of Energy) set a tempo that was not too hard, not too quick, just nice and genuine.

“We were very confident she would stay. From the 600m I was thinking that I don’t want to let those behind me catch me, because they would outsprint her, but we’d had a good enough run to try and pinch it, so I took the bull by the horns and went for home.

“At the furlong I though ... geez, she is starting to feel the pinch, but, when Our Gold Hope and Craig Willaims came up alongside me ... as soon as they joined me ... she just found another gear and she was pulling away from them in the end.

“It was a very good effort.”

“My ride on Socks Nation was locked in a while ago,” said Maloney.

“She was meant to come here for The Roses, but she was scratched from that and ran down in Sydney instead. I was going to be on her if she ran in The Roses and they locked it in from then on ... saying I could ride her in The Oaks.

“Luckily enough she got the run ... and the rest is history!

The success on Socks Nation was Ryan Maloney’s fourth Group 1 winner ... and it came on the back, as they always do, of some hard work after Maloney re-evaluated his situation mid-carnival.

“I had to go back to the drawing board with my weight and what I was doing,” admitted Maloney.

“I used to ride the bike up to 100km ... sometimes up to 500km a week, but I’ve had a few niggling injuries, and I couldn’t do that with my knee.

“I had a PRP injection and that sort of settled things down and I was able to get back on the bike.

“I rode at 55kg on Saturday ... and did it quite easily. I’m just trying to keep the body in check and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.

“Obviously the fitter you are the easier it is to handle everything ... the workload etc ... but when your body is sort of pushing back on you, it makes it hard, that’s why I had to get back into it.

And get back on top of the game.

It is the second successive Queensland Winter Carnival in which Maloney has ridden a Group 1 winner, having saluted on Huetor in the 2023 Doomben Cup.

Maloney’s other Group 1 wins came aboard Alligator Blood in the 2020 Australian Guineas and Sunshine In Paris in the 2023 Surround Stakes.

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Photos: Darren Winningham
Photos: Darren Winningham
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