Zardozi wins Kennedy Oaks on spectacular third day of Melbourne Cup Carnival

9 November 2023 Written by VRC

Classic racing and community spirit were at the fore at Flemington Racecourse today as Zardozi took out the $1 million Group 1 Kennedy Oaks (2500m), on a day that also showcased the finals of the Melbourne Cup Carnival Fashions On The Field.

The James Cummings-trained Zardozi continued a royal run for the Cummings family in the Kennedy Oaks in recent years, adding to the one won by patriarch Jim and a record-equalling nine secured by the legendary Bart.

James took victory with Willowy in 2021 before his father Anthony scored last year with She’s Extreme, while Zardozi made it three in a row for the family with her two and a quarter length success under James McDonald.

For McDonald, who won his first Kennedy Oaks, it meant that he claimed the “Classic Double” after landing the Penfolds Victoria Derby on Riff Rocket last Saturday. He was the first to win both races in the same year since Damien Oliver in 2019.

Jockey James McDonald and trainer James Cummings after riding Zardozi to win the Kennedy Oaks. (Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

Official attendance for Kennedy Oaks Day was 46,596, making it the third largest crowd on any Australian racetrack this year behind only Lexus Melbourne Cup Day and Penfolds Victoria Derby Day and taking the total attendance for the first three days of Cup Week to more than 200,000 people.

Flemington was awash with purple for Kennedy Oaks Day, with all racegoers encouraged to add a touch of the signature colour to their racewear to raise awareness for Flemington neighbour and community partner, The Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal.

The day started with an uplifting Guard of Honour formed by racing participants for the arrival of patients from The Royal Children’s Hospital in the Flemington Mounting Yard. Lexus Melbourne Cup winning jockeys Mark Zahra and Craig Williams were joined by many of their peers, along with prominent trainers Peter Moody, Calvin and Tony McEvoy and Wendy Kelly to pay tribute to the life-saving work performed at The Royal Children’s Hospital and the tremendous fighting spirit of the kids who were special guests of the VRC today.

Group 1 winning jockey Harry Coffey spoke of his own experience as a past patient of The Royal Children’s Hospital and implored all racegoers to support the Appeal.

Riding honours went to Blake Shinn, who landed a double aboard Annabel Neasham’s Little Mix in the $150,000 Good Friday Appeal Trophy (2000m) and Picaroon, for trainer Tom Dabernig, in the $500,000 Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Final (1600m).

Najem Suhail, who began his career in South Africa, scored a memorable fighting victory in the $175,000 Listed G.H. Mumm Century Stakes (1000m) for jockey Damian Lane and trainers Robbie Griffiths and Mathew de Kock, while fillies Karavas and Mumbai Muse added valuable black type victories in the $200,000 Group 3 Darley Ottawa Stakes (1000m) and the $300,000 Group 3 The Bachelors Red Roses Stakes (1100m) respectively.

Blake Shinn riding Little Mix wins the Good Friday Appeal Trophy during Oaks Day at Flemington. (Josh Chadwick/Getty Images)

With one day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival remaining, the Ron Hutchinson Award for leading rider across the four days will go down to the wire on Saturday with McDonald and Shinn tied on 19 points. Meanwhile, the J B Cummings Award for top trainer is fittingly led by his grandson and former training partner James on 15 points, one ahead of last year’s winner Chris Waller on 14.

The world-famous Birdcage Enclosure once again played host to the who’s who of entertainment, sport, business and media including Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassadors Lady Amelia and Lady Eliza Spencer and fashionista Demi Brereton, VRC Ambassador Crystal Kimber-Peters, Lexus Ambassadors, media personality Melissa Leong, racing royalty Danny and Nina O’Brien, style icon Kate Waterhouse and celebrity chef Luke Mangan for Lexus, actor and Amazing Race Celebrity Edition finalist Darren McMullen, power couple Collingwood Football Club premiership player Josh Daicos and model Annalise Dalins, sporting personality Abbey Holmes and model Tegan Martin for G.H Mumm, Miss World Australia 2023 Jasmine Stringer and Sydney AFL Player Tom Papley for TAB and AFL stars Max Gawn, Steven May and Jaidyn Stephenson for Schweppes.

VRC Ambassadors, Lady Amelia and Lady Eliza Spencer

Off track the 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival Fashions on the Field competition reached its crescendo with the Grand Finals of the Best Dressed and Best Suited categories hosted live in The Park in front of hundreds of spectators.

Eleanor Campbell from Cambridge in New Zealand reigned supreme in the Best Dressed category, wearing a white full-length dress by Solace London and hat by Monika Neuhauser Millinery.  The Best Suited category was won by Domingo Martinzez from Sydney, New South Wales wearing an upcycled suit and self-made millinery.

The Best Dressed and Best Suited winners each take away over $54,000 in cash and prizes from sponsors including Kennedy, Penfolds, TCL Electronics, Sofitel Melbourne On Collins, Schweppes, TAB and Network 10. 

“It was another sensational day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival with 46,596 people embracing Kennedy Oaks Day, the third largest race day crowd to date in Australia for 2023,” Mr Rosich said.

“Racegoers witnessed a masterclass from James McDonald aboard Zardozi in the 165th edition of the Kennedy Oaks, continuing the Cummings family’s incredible record in the time-honoured race.

“It was a special day on and off the track, as Flemington came together for The Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal, proudly wearing their best purple in support of one of Australia’s most beloved charities.

“Seeing the children who joined us here today for the Guard of Honour interacting with the stars of our sport, really brought home the true meaning behind the Good Friday Appeal and the important work that it supports at The Royal Children’s Hospital.

“All eyes now turn to TAB Champions Stakes Day where we look forward to welcoming 60,000 people to Flemington for the Cup Week grand final.”

Tickets for TAB Champions Stakes Day, featuring three $3 million championship Group 1 races to close out the Melbourne Cup Carnival, are still available for members and the general public via Ticketmaster. For more information visit​.