Shillelagh beats stablemate Tom Melbourne to win the $1 million Kennedy Mile at Flemington.
A trip to Sydney to ride in a Group One race for Lloyd Williams has paved the way for jockey Michael Dee’s second success at the highest level.
Dee was legged aboard Shillelagh, one of six Chris Waller-trained runners in Saturday’s Kennedy Mile at Flemington, giving the master trainer a quinella in the 1600m race.
Waller remembered when Dee rode Foundry to victory in the Group One Metropolitan at Randwick in September.
“I saw him standing there before the race with hardly anyone around which is a bit different for Team Williams,” Waller said.
“I went up to him and said to him good luck so I remembered him from that day.
“I thought if he’s good enough to ride for Lloyd Williams then he’s good enough for me.”
Sent off a $12 chance, Shillelagh scored a short-neck victory over Tom Melbourne ($5) with Wyndspelle ($41) 2-3/4 lengths away third.
Waller said Shillelagh had fresh legs having had only two runs lead-up starts.
“A lot of these horses have had long campaigns and getting the positive feedback from Joao Moreira last time gave us some confidence to run her in one of these Group One races today,” Waller said.
“She’ll come back in the autumn as she likes good tracks.”
Shillelagh was being aimed at Saturday’s Myer Classic but didn’t gain a start.
The result possibly cost runner-up Tom Melbourne a Group One victory.
“Maybe if she wasn’t in the race he would have won today,” Waller said.
“Tom Melbourne is going terrific but he gets too keen in his races and even today he made it hard for himself.
“I’m sure the punters love him as they know he’s good for a placing if circumstances suit.”
Dee said Saturday’s victory was only his third ride for Waller.
“It feels great, I just can’t believe it,” Dee said.
“I was very lucky to pick-up the ride for Mr Waller and the team.
“With only 52 (kilograms) on her back never once in the race did I think she was going to get beat.
“She just tugged me everywhere I wanted to go, she was too good.”