Champion jockey Damien Oliver makes history with Kennedy Oaks win
Champion jockey Damien Oliver recorded a remarkable record-equalling seventh victory in the Group 1 Kennedy Oaks (2500m), and a milestone 126th Group 1 win overall, when blueblood filly Willowy won the $1 million staying classic for three-year-old fillies today.
Trained by James Cummings, whose legendary grandfather Bart prepared nine Oaks winners in his lifetime, Willowy became the 38th filly to complete the double of the Group 2 ZED Run Wakeful Stakes (2000m) on Penfolds Victoria Derby Day and the Group 1 Kennedy Oaks, getting up in the shadows of the post to score by a head.
The Patrick Payne-trained Douceur looked the winner for much of the straight but was just denied, while Biscayne Bay for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace made good late ground for third, a further two lengths away.
It was Oliver’s seventh victory in the Kennedy Oaks, including his third in succession, equalling the seven wins of Bobbie Lewis, while his 126 Group 1 wins see him join George Moore, who reached the mark in 1971, at the top of the Australian racing tree. The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) presented Oliver with a bottle of 2017 Penfolds Grange in recognition of his feat this week in becoming the most successful Melbourne Cup Carnival rider of all time with 26 Group 1 wins since 1992.
VRC Chief Executive Officer Steve Rosich said it was a thrilling finish to the time-honoured race with a result befitting the history and tradition of the Kennedy Oaks.
“Damien has been a fixture of the Melbourne Cup Carnival for more than three decades and his three Group 1 wins this week have placed him in rare air. I am excited to see him back in 2022, aiming to build on his record of most Melbourne Cup Carnival Group 1 winners and also striving for a record-breaking eighth Kennedy Oaks. He is a true professional,” Mr Rosich said.
“For 160 years, the Kennedy Oaks has been a race in which the top staying filly has risen to the fore.
“In Willowy today, as well as the runner-up Douceur, we have seen two fillies who look to have a tremendously bright future. It was a thrilling finish at the end of 2500 metres. Hopefully, they will return to the Melbourne Cup Carnival next year, perhaps to contest the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
“The legendary horsemanship of the Cummings family was on show today with James following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather Jim, his grandfather Bart and his father Anthony, while Damien Oliver once again proved that he is one of the greatest riders to have blessed the Australian turf.”
Earlier in the day, Flemington trainer Michael Moroney took out the $500,000 Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Final (1600m) with his horse Bermadez. The Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Final, open to horses that had won lead-up races on country tracks, saw a tight finish as Bermadez scored by a neck over Typhoon Harmony and gallant leader Brazen Song.
There was also a big moment for the day’s sponsor Kennedy as the brand’s Chairman and Chief Executive James Kennedy celebrated a first Melbourne Cup Carnival winner as an owner when Plucky Pirouette took out the TCL TV Stakes (1700m).
Following Kennedy Oaks Day, James McDonald leads the Ron Hutchison Award for jockeys during Melbourne Cup Carnival with 31 points, while Chris Waller leads the JB Cummings Award for trainers on 24 points.
Off the track, it was a hotly contested final in the Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn National Competition.
Ultimately it was New South Wales based entrants who reigned supreme, taking out both the women’s and men’s national final.
Viera Macikova’s red-and-white look proved a winner, with her pleated silk Rodarte midi dress exuding a timeless race wear look.
The lively two-tone colour palette was echoed in polished accessories.
With a sheer brim and red ribbon detailing, Viera’s The Fillies Collection hat played the perfect accompaniment to her dress, impeccably matching its pretty collar and cuffs.
Kalombo Ntumba took out the men’s national competition wearing a tailored double breasted blazer splashed in a standout shade of turquoise that caught the judges’ attention.
Paired with slim leg suit pants in pale taupe, also by YB Tailoring, the look delivered a contemporary take on traditional racing codes.
A black silk pocket square, tucked into the blazer’s breast pocket and Rodd & Gunn Panama-style hat in felted wool completed the financial analysts dapper spin on spring suiting.
The 2021 Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn® competition offers one of Australia’s richest prize pools, with Viera and Kalombo each receiving close to $100,000 in prizes each including a brand new Lexus UX250h 2WD Sports Luxury valued at over $70,070, an Omega Watch from Kennedy and a Myer gift card.
In the fashion stakes at Flemington neon brights were popular, with Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn Ambassador Tayla Damir dressed in a green Mossman pant-suit and a headpiece by Ashlee Lauren Designs.
Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn Ambassador Tim Kano wore a beige Dom Bagnato three-piece suit for his day at the track.
The Melbourne Cup Carnival concludes on Saturday with Paramount+ Stakes Day, featuring two superstars of Australian racing, English import Zaaki and speedster Nature Strip, tackling the Group 1 Paramount+ Mackinnon Stakes and the Group 1 Darley Sprint Classic respectively.
The final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival will also feature the announcement of winners in the Myer Fashions on Your Front Lawn Just for Fun categories.