The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Trainer James Cummings has won the Group 1 $1 million Kennedy Oaks (2500m) for the second time in three years with a big victory by Zardozi in Thursday’s Flemington feature.
Cummings took out the VRC Oaks in 2021 with Willowy before his father, Anthony, enjoyed victory last year with She’s Extreme.
The Cummings family’s dominance in the VRC Oaks results continued this Melbourne Cup Carnival with jockey James McDonald steering the $2.70 favourite Zardozi to an easy two length victory.
J Mac had the filly settled out the back in a lovely rhythm throughout.
With 350m to go he hit the button with Zardozi moving up the middle of the course.
The classy Kingman filly kicked into gear and quickly put the result beyond doubt charging home for a stylish success showing off her blistering turn of foot.
Zardozi returned to winning form for the punters after her narrow loss when second as the beaten favourite by a nose in the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) on Derby Day.
“We had it in the back of our mind with her pedigree that she would come into her own from 2000-metres onwards,” winning hoop McDonald told Racing.com on Thursday.
“Her run here on Saturday was phenomenal and even though we were disappointed not to win it had Oaks written all over her.
“There wasn’t a horse in this race that has a turn-of-foot like her and it was evident today when she ambled up and put them to the sword very quickly.”
In a brave but distant second from a long way back making a late run in the Oaks was the Matthew Smith-trained Aethelflaed who was another Wakeful graduate having run fourth in her lead-up.
“She ran huge,” this year’s Melbourne Cup winning jockey, Mark Zahra, said of the Oaks runner-up.
“Just probably too slow a tempo for her, which let the winner’s turn of foot show.
“It wasn’t a real staying contest, but she chased hard all the way and they flogged the rest.
“They’ll have a bit of fun in the autumn, for sure.”
Completing the strung-out Kennedy Oaks trifecta over six lengths off the winner was the Emma-Lee & David Browne-trained Basilinna ridden by soon-to-retire champion hoop Damien Oliver.
“Had a beautiful run and she moved up nicely in the straight, I thought I was a real chance, but the first two were just a little bit too strong for her over this distance this time,” Oliver said following his final ride in the Oaks.
“Good effort in her first prep.”
Zardozi’s last start conqueror in the Wakeful, the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained Amazonian Lass, was ridden in the lead by Tim Clark in the Oaks.
The front runner was tackled in the straight eventually fading to finish nearly nine lengths back fourth.
The Kennedy Oaks result saw McDonald take out the three-year-old staying classics double over the Cup Carnival following his VRC Derby victory last Saturday aboard Riff Rocket.
“Derbies and Oaks, there’s something special about them,” McDonald said post-victory.
“I’ve never won a VRC Oaks and it’s a test of training ability, horsepower and obviously you’ve got to execute pretty well because they’re immature still.
“My trainer (James Cummings) is a freak, he just set this horse for this race, and it’s paid off and she had to do it, she’s a star filly, executed beautifully, bang, crash, whatever you want.
“Oaks and Derbies are very precious. It is a test of horse, trainer, and jockey and the VRC Oaks and Derby are testament to that.
“I’ll give James credit, the draw (barrier five in the Oaks) enabled us to race a lot closer and he was adamant that he wanted her to be back and give her the rest she needed and it proved right here.
“Credit to the whole Godolphin team, they’ve turned out a beautiful filly for this Oaks.
“It’s so prestigious, it’s a beautiful race to win and I’m so proud to win it.”
Cummings in turn was also full of post-victory praise for McDonald and his big Cup Carnival.
“He’s absolutely nailed it,” the Godolphin trainer said.
“To win the Derby and the Oaks in the same Cup carnival is a great credit to James, he showed great nous early, got himself in a perfect position, settled down eighth in his own space, I love that and she let go like a weapon, that’s absolutely gold for her pedigree.
“All these Group Ones are special and a time honoured VRC Oaks, it’s going to get a shot in the pool room.”
2023 Kennedy Oaks Results & Finishing Order
|1||2||ZARDOZI||James Cummings||James McDonald||5||56kg||$2.70F|
|2||8||AETHELFLAED||Matthew Smith||Mark Zahra||2.25L||11||56kg||$6|
|3||7||BASILINNA (NZ)||Emma-Lee & David Browne||Damien Oliver||6.5L||2||56kg||$7.50|
|4||3||AMAZONIAN LASS||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Tim Clark||8.75L||12||56kg||$13|
|5||6||COCO SUN||Tony & Calvin McEvoy||Damian Lane||9.5L||6||56kg||$31|
|6||4||SERVED COLD||Danny O’Brien||Blake Shinn||10.25L||10||56kg||$11|
|7||10||ETHEL MAUDE||Pat Carey & Harris Walker||Rhys McLeod||10.45L||9||56kg||$26|
|8||5||HARLOW MIST (NZ)||John Sargent||Michael Dee||11.95L||8||56kg||$19|
|9||14||EVERLASTING KISS||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||Ben Melham||12.15L||4||56kg||$101|
|10||1||TROPICAL SQUALL||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Adam Hyeronimus||14.15L||3||56kg||$5.50|
|11||11||PEAKY RIDGE||Peter Chow||Declan Bates||19.15L||7||56kg||$151|
|12||13||ANOTHER YOU||Dan O’Sullivan||Ms Jamie Kah||20.4L||1||56kg||$101|
|9||WINGS OF SONG||Patrick Payne||Billy Egan||0|
|12||VIESTE||Benjamin Smith||Dean Yendall||0|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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