The Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra trained filly Aristia completed the traditional Wakeful Stakes and VRC Oaks double at Flemington on Thursday with the Lonhro filly too strong under a patient ride by Damien Lane that saw them win with a definitive 3/4L margin.
On Saturday Aristia and Lane won the Group 2 Wakeful Stake over 2000m and she backed up well in a slowly run race in the $1m, Group 1 Kennedy Oaks (2500m) that suited her position in fourth for most of the trip perfectly.
Tim Clark went to the lead from the barriers with Mark Newnham’s Greysful Glamour and they stamped out the tempo without overly exerting themselves. The rest of the field followed with Maracaibo and Stephen Baster following the and Miner’s Miss and Michelle Payne in third. Aristia and Lane watched and waited.
There was no change in the order until the final bend when Baster sent Maracaibo forward to challenge Greysful Glamour to the 400m. The speed increased and it became a battle to the finish.
Maracaibo could not go on and Greysful Glamour was out on her own. Lane steadily brought Aristia back into the race and made ground on the leader. At the 125m Aristia had the lead and then with stamina she forged on for the win.
Aristia and Damian Lane have the measure of Greysful Glamour and Tim Clark on the rails, picture Quentinjlang.com
Greysful Glamour (Stratum) and Clark stayed on well for second with Miner’s Miss (Rebel Raider) and Payne keeping third, the margin a further 3/4L. Maracaibo did well to be fourth with Qafila fifth. In essence these five were the first five at the 400m and they maintained that for the length of the straight.
The win restored the pattern of Wakeful Stakes going forward to in the Oaks. From 1998 to 2013 19 of the 26 renewals were won by Wakeful winners. Thursday’s win was the first since 2013’s winner Kirramosa to make the double.
The time was 2.40.54 on the Good 4 track with the final 600m in 36.26. Aristia paid $5.00 on fixed odds and $5.20 on the tote. The $3.00 favourite Amphitrite finished last.
“I hate to say (it was) a forgone conclusion, but it was a good watch early on. It was a very easy watch. All credit to Damian," said co-trainer Mathew Ellerton.
“Special thanks to Damien Thornton who had done a bit of work on her early on. It is probably a shame that he is not on her, but that is racing. He still does a fair bit of riding for us. A very good job by Damian Lane.
“There is a big group of happy owners. She was passed in (at the sales) so we did a deal after the sale.
"She has probably broken the mould with Lonhro a little bit. That was my only concern that she is by Lonhro. I thought she looked better on the Sunday and Monday morning after Saturday and she is a very tough filly,” he said.
Newnham was thrilled with the second place of his filly who came into the race off a seventh in the Group 3 Ethereal Stakes over 2000m at Caulfield on October 20th.
“She ran super and the other filly was too strong. She went to the lead and relaxed well,” he said.
Damien Lane and co-trainer Simon Zahra, picture Quentinjlang.com
“This is easily my biggest thrill in racing, just the elation as I went over the line. I love Matty and Simon; they have been such a big part of not only my career but my life," said Lane.
“When I moved to Melbourne I lived in Matty’s home for the first six or seven months. He has always treated me like a family member. I would not be where I am today without them. He always took care of me and I always appreciated that.
“Everyone at home, they would be so proud, my little brother and sister. My stepfather, Greg Harper, he is always watching every one of my rides. It is just a massive thrill.”
“There are so many pieces to the puzzle to get me here today. I’m just so happy for Matty and Simon, and the First Light Racing crew. They are a big part of the team. Very happy,” he said.
Aristia is out of the Tiger Hill mare Nakaaya representing the traditional Sir Tristram and Danehill cross. The Wakeful Stakes and Oaks have been her two wins from 11 starts and certainly she needs no other more important spring credentials.
The filly is owned by First Light Racing Pty Ltd, Greenwich Stud Pty Ltd, Falcons Racing, Mr P G Harbinson, Mrs L M Cartwright, Mr P Rimes, Mr G A Edwards, Too Hot To Trot Syndicate, Mr J Williams, Ms J M Vallence, Mr A Mohamed-Ali, Mr G Hamilton, S D L Racing, S J V, Vionneto Racing, Mr P J Campbell, and Mr A P Grant. Stakes earnings are now $876,550.
Aristia, picture Quentinjlang.com
Kennedy Oaks, photo finish picture Racing.com