By Glenn Davis
Jockey Larry Cassidy is hoping to cap one of sports greatest comebacks with his second Group 1 Queensland Oaks victory aboard Angel Of Heaven at Doomben on Saturday.
Angel Of Heaven is prepared by Newcastle trainer Kris Lees who also has Aliferous in the 2200-metre feature along with emergencies Itz Lily and Grand Bouquet.
Cassidy, a multiple premiership winning jockey in Sydney and Brisbane, has ridden 42 Group 1’s during his career which almost ended with crippling knee injuries four years ago.
He missed 18 months of riding with his knee problems shortly after riding Winx to success in the Group 3 Caloundra Guineas at the Sunshine Coast in May, 2015.
“It was about four weeks after I rode Winx that I started getting knee problems,” Cassidy said.
“I eventually had surgery on both my knees after the doctors discovered I had torn the meniscus in both knees.
“It was mostly caused by wear and tear but I really felt it when I twisted a knee getting off a horse one day,” Cassidy said.
Cassidy contemplated retirement during his recovery from surgery and at one stage thought about becoming a steward and helping young apprentices before he regained the desire to ride again once the pain of his injuries faded.
Cassidy hasn’t ridden a Group 1 winner since the John Wheeler-trained Court Ruler won the Queensland Derby in 2009 and his hopeful he can win his second Queensland Oaks on Angel Of Heaven.
His only Queensland Oaks win was aboard the Gerald Ryan-trained Arctic Scent in 1996.
Angel Of Heaven produced a strong Queensland Oaks trial last start when runner-up to Fun Fact in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes at Eagle Farm last Saturday.
“It’s a very open race this year,” Cassidy said.
“Usually, there’s one or two stand outs but not this year.
“She looks a good ride and she did a good job against the boys last start.”
Lees was reluctant to separate his pair but had preferred Aliferous before she drew barrier 13 while Angel Of Heaven will jump from three.
“I did prefer Aliferous before the draw but now she’s got 13 she’ll need a lot of luck and things will need to go in her favour,” Lees said.
“Angel Of Heaven has done well since the Grand Prix and I’m sure she’ll back-up.”
Racing Queensland webnews May 31