Australia’s first lady of racing Gai Waterhouse has filled one of the few remaining gaps in her trophy collection by winning her first $1 million VRC Oaks.
Waterhouse made it her mission to target the Oaks this year and her filly Pinot delivered the goods.
Knowing how desperate she had been to win it, Adrian Bott sent his training partner out to lead Pinot into the winner’s stall.
“Adrian so sweetly said to me it’s your Oaks, you go out,” Waterhouse said.
“I’ve never won it before. It’s so exciting.”
Pinot missed the start out of the gates but jockey Stephen Baster simply switched to plan B.
“I got a bit of a fright when she didn’t jump out of the gates, but Stephen just took his time with her,” Waterhouse said.
“I knew that she’d have that kick at the end of the race that would just be the saving grace.”
Baster was surprised it took Waterhouse so long to add the Oaks to her CV.
“I’ve been riding a long time now, and there’s no way I thought I’d ride Gai’s first winner in the Oaks,” the 42-year-old said.
“It’s amazing that she hasn’t done it before.
“She’s such a great trainer and she’s so great for racing.”
The Sydney trainers have had many winners in Melbourne this spring, but delivering the first Oaks for Waterhouse during Melbourne Cup week was extra special.
“The stable’s been in great form over the carnival,” Bott said.
“We love coming down here and we target these races specifically.
“We wanted to have a strong presence throughout the carnival but to be able to pull off one of the majors is the icing on the cake.”
The race was delayed as odds-on favourite Aloisia was reshod after losing a shoe on her way to the barrier. The Aaron Purcell-trained filly finished sixth.
A crowd of 63,673 headed to Flemington, including Priscilla Presley and the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt for his second year in a row.