Well-backed favourite Kirramosa was forced to dig deep to win the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) in a thrilling finish at Flemington this afternoon.
Kirramosa had received plenty of support in betting since she won the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday but she did not have it her own way; with Zanbagh and Solicit serving it up to the daughter of Alamosa in a thrilling three-way finish.
Solicit set the pace early and battled on bravely when asked for an extra effort by jockey Glen Boss but it was Kirramosa and Zanbagh who finished the stronger, with the favourite itching just clear on the line to give trainer John Sargent just his second Group 1 victory in Australia.
There were suggestions that Blake Shinn who rode Zanbagh may protest, after Kirramosa ducked in at the 200 metre mark, but after watching a replay of the race decided against filing an official complaint.
Sargent admitted that he was worried when jockey Nash Rawiller was forced to stop riding Kirramosa in order to straighten the filly up in the final stages of the race but was quick to pay credit to the way that Rawiller accessed the race.
“The inside horse was coming home strong but he is a very good rider Nash and he just judged it perfectly,” Sargent said.
“She was a bit further forward than I thought that she would be but she jumped really well so he put her up there and put her to sleep.”
The original plan for Kirramosa was to go into the Crown Oaks fresh, without running in the Wakeful Stakes, and Sargent said after the race that he was worried about how the lightly-framed filly would handle running in two races over the space of only five days.
“The big question today was whether she would back up,” Sargent said.
“There is not a lot of her, she is a fairly light filly, but she has a great constitution and eats and has a great temperament, so that makes a good horse.”
Kirramosa has shown plenty of improvement in the last two starts of her 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign but Sargent is expected her to return as an even better filly when she returns in the autumn after a stint in the spelling paddock.
“We will just put her aside now, she will go out for six weeks, and she will probably target the races in Sydney and Melbourne,” Sargent said.
Nash Rawiller won the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) on Red Tracer last Saturday but has had a mixed 2013 Melbourne Cup Carnival after missing out on the ride on Fiorente in the Melbourne Cup, losing his irons while riding Opinion in the Carnival Handicap (2800m) and falling off Octavia following the running of the Mumm Stakes earlier today.
Rawiller was riding Kirramosa for the first time today but said that he went into the race full of confidence that the Alamosa filly would give him his first ever victory in the Crown Oaks.
“We had full confident that this filly is a really good stayer,” Rawiller said.
“When there wasn’t an early urgency from any other rider early I decided to slide forward to get her straight into her rhythm, which she did, and her staying quality has shone thorough.
“She could be the real deal I think; definitely during the autumn but even later on as a four-year-old mare.”
“Obviously at that stage of the race they were all starting to feel the pinch and Bossy’s horse shifted out initially and my horse started to shift in but the best stayer won the run to the line.
“She just kept finding for me and that was the most important part.
Kirramosa became the 35th filly to complete the Wakeful Stakes/Crown Oaks double and was the eighth favourite in the last eleven years to salute in the Group 1 event.