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It was the ideal result for Ladies Day in the big one at Flemington with Australia’s leading lady of racing Gai Waterhouse finally winning her first VRC Oaks in 2017 thanks to a tough effort from her beautifully-bred filly Pinot.
All the rage in betting on this year’s Group 1 $1 million VRC Kennedy Oaks (2500m) was on the barnstorming Moonee Valley Vase winner Aloisia.
Things didn’t go to script for Aaron Purcell’s odds-on favourite however who had to be re-shoed just before the race and who got fractious in the gates.
Aloisia still jumped away fairly and found herself settled just off the pace set by the ultra-consistent Lindsay Park-trained Commands filly Rimraam.
Jockey Stephen Baster meanwhile had to rethink race tactics on the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained Pinot after she missed the kick.
A perfect pedigree being out of star sprinter – miler Pierro from Oaks winner Dizelle, Pinot was racing for the first time since saluting by nearly three lengths with Baster aboard on Caulfield Cup Day in the Group 3 Ethereal Stakes (2000m).
She franked the form of that race, where she overcame barrier 15 of 16 to win, and did the double last completed by Set Square (2014).
“Unbelievable,” Baster said post-win.
“I’ve been riding a long time now and I never thought I’d ride Gai’s first Oaks winner.
“It’s amazing she hasn’t done it before now.”
Baster didn’t panic and instead allowed Pinot to roll around and get into a nice spot into second behind the leader.
“She missed it [the jump] by two [lengths],” Baster said.
“I went around them and went against everything I’ve been taught as a jockey.
“I went up and put the pressure on them.”
Aloisia meanwhile was one off the fence in fourth but never presented a challenge, eventually running three lengths back sixth in a midfield finish.
Rimraam was trying to go all-the-way, but Pinot was positioned perfectly on her outside stalking and waiting to strike.
As they approached the turn, Aloisia tried to get closer peeling out three deep and John Sargent’s Wakeful Stakes winner from Derby Day Luvaluva came out four deep right around the outside.
From the 550m the race to the Oaks win was well and truly on, but Pinot up the centre quickly presented as the one to beat giving a lovely kick 200m out from the line and charging home.
The late challenge came from the Tony McEvoy-trained Bring Me Roses who was impressive winning the Group 2 Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m) two back before her disappointing 12th in the Wakeful Stakes.
She improved off that, closing hard in the final stages but it was Pinot on top by a length and a quarter in the end.
Finishing off the VRC Oaks trifecta a further one and a half lengths back for third was the Mick Price-trained Hiyaam who had form around the winner when third in the Ethereal Stakes before her lead-up fourth in the Wakeful.
The Wakeful Stakes winner Luvaluva meanwhile was tracking second last throughout but also made up late ground to finish fourth.
“She’s a just a big superstar,” Baster said of the VRC Oaks winner Pinot.
“This filly, she’s only immature now. She’s going to keep improving, she’s an absolute star.”
Co-trainer Bott said it was a wonderful result to be a part of Waterhouse’s first victory in the Melbourne Cup Carnival classic and was full of praise for Pinot.
“I think you saw a very good filly there,” he said.
“What an exciting Oaks.
“She’s a beautiful staying sort of type and we saw that late in the piece.
“We were very confident about her staying abilities going into the race.
“We knew she was rock, hard fit.
“It’s very rewarding for the team to be able to pull this off.
“Very special win for her [Gai] and I’m delighted to be a part of it.”
Waterhouse was her usual colourful self after the win, thrilled to see Pinot live up to her potential and pedigree, as well as her former Golden Slipper winner Pierro continue his good season as a sire.
“She’s good, she’s really good and she kicked their brains in today,” Waterhouse said.
“Just liked the way Steve [Baster] just too his time…the further she went the bigger the margin wasn’t it?
“It is special…she came to Melbourne a maiden with no accolades or anything….she’s just not looked back since.
“She’s just a gem she’s everything a trainer or owner could hope for.
“She’s now a Group 1 mare with a magnificent pedigree.
“When the pressure was on, she just kept finding…and that’s what you want to see in a good stayer.
“Very proud of this filly.
“[And] Pierro’s just proving himself something so special as he was.”
2017 VRC Oaks Results & Finishing Order
Flemington Race 8 (5:00pm) – 09/11/2017
|1||4||PINOT||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Stephen Baster||–||6||55.5kg||$5.50|
|2||3||BRING ME ROSES||Tony McEvoy||Luke Currie||1.25L||7||55.5kg||$31|
|3||6||HIYAAM (NZ)||Mick Price||Michael Dee||2.75L||5||55.5kg||$21|
|4||2||LUVALUVA (NZ)||John Sargent||Blake Shinn||2.85L||10||55.5kg||$6.50|
|5||12||MISS ADMIRATION||Mick Price||Noel Callow||2.95L||1||55.5kg||$151|
|6||1||ALOISIA (NZ)||Aaron Purcell||Luke Nolen||3.15L||9||55.5kg||$1.80F|
|7||5||RIMRAAM (NZ)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Kerrin McEvoy||3.25L||12||55.5kg||$16|
|8||8||RELIABLE DAME (NZ)||Anthony Freedman||Craig Williams||7.25L||4||55.5kg||$26|
|9||9||SWEET MISCHIEF||Tony McEvoy||Ms Jamie Kah||7.35L||3||55.5kg||$91|
|10||10||FOUR KOALAS||Brian McGrath||Hugh Bowman||12.35L||8||55.5kg||$101|
|11||7||LUCKY LOUIE||Anthony & Edward Cummings||Ben Melham||12.85L||11||55.5kg||$71|
|12||11||CIRCULEIGHT||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||Michael Walker||27.85L||2||55.5kg||$101|
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