IT had been 660 days since six-year-old mare Hot Ruby had crossed the line in first, but the addition of blinkers was enough to switch it on at Caulfield on Saturday.
The Luke Oliver-trained runner was dropping back to the mile, where it had placed in only one from six runs, but with blinkers on it was able to switch on and sprint away with the Ian Miller Handicap.
The win padded Craig Williams’ lead in the jockeys’ premiership, taking the 39-year-old to 52 wins on the season.
“She’s been racing well and the other day, Damian Lane who rode her, thought she switched off late, so we put the blinkers on today, back in trip and she had a nice run from a good barrier draw,” Williams said.
“I just wanted to get the best of out her whatever it took and she ended up winning untouched today which was nice.”
Williams positioned the daughter of Magnus in the box seat behind the leader Miss It And A Bit. With the easing race-favourite Zasorceress back in the field and needing to pull wide, Williams eased Hot Ruby ($5.10 at Ladbrokes) out to give winning trainer Luke Oliver his first success with the mare.
“We’ve only had her for half a dozen runs, just this preparation,” Oliver said. “It certainly wasn’t the plan to come back to the 1600m, but this race looks a bit soft and Damian Lane, who rode the favourite, suggested to put the blinkers on. He thought they’d sharpen her up.”
With the elusive win under its belt, Oliver believes Hot Ruby has more in store for the rest of the season.
“We came her confident, especially after the draw. She’s done that very easily and we now know she can run the 2000m,” Oliver said.
“We’re still learning about her, I think she’s got a bright future.”
Oliver thanked the owners who placed the mare in Oliver’s hands in the hopes to turn its form around in Victoria.
“I’d like to thank the owners John and Helen McPhee,” he said. “They’re just from country New South Wales – they’ve been great supporters of racing in Victoria for a long time and it’s good to see their colours winning in town again.
“They’ve had some great horses over a long period of time and it’s a real privilege to train for them.”
Tessabelle fought on well for second and Gingie produced its best run for awhile in third at place odds of $4.80.
The disappointment in the race was the favourite Zasorceress which got too far back and failed to make any impression.