The Kennedy Oaks: magical moments

8 November 2023 Written by VRC

The very first Oaks at Flemington was held in 1859, two years earlier than the first Cup – although the entries were few and, on the day, only one filly, Birdswing, came to the starting post. She won literally in a walkover. Some lists of Oaks winners date from 1861, but this denies Birdswing and the 1860 winner – George Watson’s Derby winner Flying Colours – their due.

We remember some other notable Oaks winners.

Briseis (1876): Achieved a unique treble in 1876 by winning the Derby, Cup, and Oaks in the same week.

Frances Tressaday (1923): The last filly to win the Victoria Derby, the horse then came fifth in the Melbourne Cup then won the Oaks, all in the same week.

Chicquita (1949): A champion and crowd favourite, the horse transformed the life and career of her trainer, Tony Lopes. She won 16 of her 36 starts, with 12 placings including a third in the 1950 Melbourne Cup. 

Evening Peal (1955): Evening Peal also took out the Queensland Oaks and in 1956, she won the Melbourne Cup and the AJC Oaks.

Light Fingers (1964): Perhaps known best for her win in the 1965 Melbourne Cup under Bart Cummings, Light Fingers also ran second to her stablemate Galilee in the 1966 Cup.

Surround (1976): As a three-year-old Surround won the Oaks in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland – the only filly to achieve this treble. She also won the 1977 Cox Plate, something no other three-year-old filly has been able to do.

Miss Finland (2006): The horse made history as the first filly to achieve the Golden Slipper-Oaks double, under the skilled guidance of jockey Craig Williams. It also gave Davif Hayes his first Oaks success.

Jameka (2015): Leading from start to finish, Damien Oliver steered Jameka to victory to deliver Ciaron Maher a second-consecutive win in the Oaks, having saddled Set Square to victory twelve months prior.

Pinot (2017): Ridden by Stephen Baster, Gai Waterhouse became the first woman ever to train the winner of this classic staying race.

Hoof note

Five VRC Oaks winners also won the Melbourne Cup, with Briseis, Auraria, and Sister Olive achieving this feat by winning their Oaks two days after their Melbourne Cup victories. Evening Peal and Light Fingers won the Oaks in 1955 and 1964, respectively, and both went on to win the Melbourne Cup a year later as four-year-old mares.