2023 Champions Stakes Results: Atishu and J Mac Beat Duais and Ollie

November 11, 2023

2023 Champions Stakes Results: Atishu and J Mac Beat Duais and Ollie

James McDonald stopped the retiring Damien Oliver from a swansong Group 1 win at Flemington riding Atishu to a powerhouse upset over Duais in a thrilling 2023 Champions Stakes result.

2023 Champions Stakes winner Atishu

2023 Champions Stakes winner Atishu was explosive late in a big upset at Flemington. Photo: Steve Hart.

In a performance by hoop and horse that defied the trend of front runners saluting in the circle races on the card, the Chris Waller-trained Atishu exploded late making up ground from the back to thump her rivals in the Group 1 $3 million Champions Stakes (2000m) by nearly two lengths.

The classy daughter of Savabeel was on the quick back-up after a brave second at the track last weekend crossing second in the Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) on Derby Day.

That race has proved the superior form line on Stakes Day with the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace-trained winner Pride Of Jenni also backing-up to lead all-the-way and defeat Mr Brightside home in the Group 1 $3 million Champions Mile (1600m).

Atishu then improved on her Empire Rose placing to post a Group 1 upset in the last elite level of the Cup Carnival rewarding connections who opted to test her against a quality field over a Group 2 Matriarch Stakes run over the same distance at the meeting.

The Champions Stakes winner thrived at headquarters on the seven-day turnaround winning decisively in a spectacular performance.

“Horses don’t run that well and not win, so to run second behind a horse (last week) that franked the form in the previous, when I walked out to Chris for the instructions I said, ‘we’re on a winner, I reckon’,” McDonald told Racing.com.

“We’ve just got to do the little things right and get the splits when we need it. She was fantastic, unbelievable.”

The Simon & Ed Crisford-trained UK raider West Wind Blows looked to steal the show with Jamie Spencer coming right round the field to lead on the horse who was coming off back-to-back seconds behind the past two Melbourne Cup winners.

He was quickly joined once on the straight however and faded out of contention.

As the front-runner was going backwards J Mac hit the button on Atishu ($8.50) who came with an impressive blitz down the outside really sprinting away over the final 100m.

On the line she had one and three-quarters of a length to spare over the Edward Cummings-trained Duais ($7) who was brave in defeat having failed to get into clear running until late with Oliver aboard for his final Group 1 ride at Flemington.

“She went great. She had a good run, but the winner was just a bit too good for us today,” Oliver said of the runner-up.

In third rounding out the Champions Stakes trifecta in an eye-catching photo was the Danny O’Brien-trained 50/1 outsider Young Werther who beat home the dual defending champ Zaaki for the placing.

“He ran great. It was a muddling-run race for him. Jamie Spencer’s horse led and went to the front, it would have made it easier, but he went inside, outside the whole time. He just needed a nice smooth run, but he ran well,” Jamie Kah said after riding Zaaki to fourth.

2023 Champions Stakes Results & Finishing Order

Finish No. Horse Trainer Jockey Margin Bar. Weight Penalty Starting Price
1 10 ATISHU (NZ) Chris Waller James McDonald 5 57kg $8.50
2 9 DUAIS Edward Cummings Damien Oliver 1.75L 3 57kg $7
3 3 YOUNG WERTHER (NZ) Danny O’Brien Billy Egan 1.95L 6 59kg $51
4 1 ZAAKI (GB) Annabel Neasham Ms Jamie Kah 2.05L 10 59kg $4.40
5 7 BUCKAROO (GB) Joseph O’Brien Blake Shinn 2.15L 8 59kg $26
6 11 PROWESS (NZ) Roger James & Robert Wellwood Mark Zahra 2.65L 4 56.5kg $5.50
7 2 HUETOR (FR) Peter & Paul Snowden Kerrin McEvoy 2.85L 11 59kg $61
8 8 MONTEFILIA Chris Waller Michael Dee 3.25L 1 57kg $26
9 4 WEST WIND BLOWS (IRE) Simon & Ed Crisford Jamie Spencer 3.35L 2 59kg $2.80F
10 5 ZEYREK (FR) Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes Ben Melham 4.85L 7 59kg $61
11 6 PINSTRIPED Enver Jusufovic Ben Allen 5.35L 9 59kg $81

Table Credit: Racing Australia.


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