A tremendously searching galloping in Saturday’s $1 million, Group 1, James Boag’s Premium Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick played right in to the hands of race favourite Unforgotten (by Fastnet Rock), who managed to claim the time honoured Classic with the assistance of a perfectly judged Hugh Bowman ride.
Unforgotten and Hugh Bowman with Hiyaam (NZ) and Michael Dee on the rails, picture Sportpix.com.au
A truly run ‘mile-and-a-half’ contest that attracted the best staying fillies either side of the Tasman, the feature of the race was to prove the bold tactics adopted by expatriate Kiwi jockey Michael Dee aboard Hiyaam (by High Chaparral).
Sent along at a very rapid tempo for the majority of the journey, Hiyaam entered the straight with a clear advantage over her opposition but with another 400 metres to run right out to the line.
In the end, the essay proved to be too much of an ask.
Produced with a late flourish in the straight after a much easier passage well back in the field, Unforgotten slowly wore down Hiyaam to take the lead inside the final furlong before scoring by a length.
Running a well beaten third at massive triple figure odds proved to be Miss Admiration (by Sebring), a stable companion of the runner-up.
Winning rider Hugh Bowman admitted after the victory: “I haven’t had a lot to do with her this preparation. The team said she was our Oaks’ filly, but after her trials I wasn’t convinced.
“After her first-up run I still wasn’t convinced, but from then, once she’s got out to a suitable distance — they know what they’re talking about the Chris Waller stable.
“She’s a lovely filly. We had a slight concern of her running a strong mile and a half… it was a staying test today and this filly came through with flying colours. Who knows what’s in store for her in the future.
Bowman added: “I was always confident. I had such a lovely run in transit. I worked her on Tuesday morning, so I knew what she was capable of. I knew from the 400m that I had Hiyaam covered, but I wasn’t to know what was coming from behind me. But it would have been a monumental effort to come from behind and run me down because she was superb the last 500m.”
Winning trainer Chris Waller revealed that the tempo of the race gave him some cause for concern during the course of the race.
“When I did see that speed, like everybody else, the first question was her stamina and whether that would hold up for a 3-year-old filly. It’s quite a long way 2400m and you don’t know until you run it.
“She had the perfect run the way the race was run. The filly that ran second was the one who beat her home last time, so we knew that was the one to chase and she set about chasing.
It was good to see her get the upper hand with about 100m to go. Full credit to the second horse to do it all the way.”
In terms of Unforgotten’s ongoing career Waller remarked: “I think she has a very bright future. The most exciting part of this win today was like two starts ago, she was brave. It’s fantastic.”
While the win of Unforgotten was undoubtedly that of a top-class race filly, the performance of the runner-up Hiyaam was also outstanding and confirmed the impression she made when winning the Group 1 Vinery Stakes at her previous outing and adopting the same bold, front-running tactics.
Sent along at a tremendously strong gallop virtually from go-to-whao, Hiyaam displayed admirable courage when having every reason to hoist a white flag and is clearly a 3-year-old filly that can run the Classic trip right out.
Starting prices of this year’s Australian Oaks were $4.00 Unforgotten, $4.60 Hiyaam and $101 Miss Admiration. Winning time was a very rapid 2m27.21s, the final 600m being run in 36.10s. Margins were one length by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
Unforgotten is now the winner of five races from nine starts than have generated $1,039,270 in prizemoney. She is raced by a group of owners comprising her trainer Chris Waller, as well as Magic Bloodstock Racing, Mr F W Cook, Mrs C M Cook, Mr N A Greenhalgh, Mrs M T Greenhalgh, Mr R Shrimpton, Mrs C Shrimpton, Mr I Bruce, Mr R Smith, Mr P Y W Ng, Mr K H Warriner, Mr J T C Lake and Mr B L Mathieson.
Bowman salutes the victory, picture Sportpix.com.au
Australian Oaks, photo finish picture ATC
What the beaten jockeys said:
Mark Zahra (Aloisia): “She got too far back and couldn’t get into the race.”
Michael Dee (Hiyaam): “She is very tough. That wind fired her up a little bit down the back and down the side. I needed her to relax for another furlong and that may have been the difference. She is so tough.”
Chris Johnson (Savvy Coup): “She had her chance. She ran a brave race. She just peaked coming to the end a little bit.”
Kerrin McEvoy (Luvaluva): “She was back and wide. She never got a chance to get into the race. She was well below her best.”
Luke Currie (Bring Me Roses): “She was good. She took a while to find her spot. The winner pushed her out of the way and quickened away from her. I thought she worked to the line well. She is a nice stayer in the making.”
Craig Williams (Contessa Vanessa): “She gave me a lovely ride behind the speed. Graeme Rogerson says she will be spelled.”
Michael Walker (Danzdanzdance): “She went super. She had a really good run. She was flat a really long way out and usually a horse would stop. She kept trying. If they take it home and she puts on 60-70kg she would be a better horse. She’s at the end of her prep now but I take my hat off to her.”
Jason Collett (Chilly Cha Cha): “She probably didn’t relax well enough to see out the 2400m.”
Damian Lane (She's A Treasure): “It was probably all a bit much for her. She will be a better horse next preparation.”
Damien Oliver (Miss Admiration): “It was a career best for her. She stays really well and the strong tempo of the mile and a half really suited.”
Rhys McLeod (Naivasha): “I think the whole experience got the better of her.”
Dwayne Dunn (Wild Sea): “It was probably a step too far for her at this time of her life.”
The dive lands!!— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) April 14, 2018
Hiyaam puts on a bold staying display out in front, but the game favourite Unforgotten quickens the chase and runs her down in a spectacular finish to the G1 Australian Oaks @royalrandwick. pic.twitter.com/SRISMqB8XK