Talented three-year-old Merriest has produced a career-best performance to beat a talented field of fillies in the Listed Atlantic Jewel Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley this afternoon.
Merriest was rated virtually no chance of success in the Atlantic Jewel Stakes this afternoon as a $26 shot, but the filly did her chances of success no harm whatsoever when jumping well and taking an ideal position on the heels of early leaders Whispering Brook and Athena Lass.
Locking in a fierce sprint battle with Whispering Brook upon arriving at the final straight, Merriest found an extra gear when asked for a final effort by jockey Damien Oliver; beating the previously undefeated Perth galloper by a head; Sweet Sherry running on for third.
Oliver’s ride was arguably the difference in success for Merriest this afternoon, but the champion hoop laid the praise on the filly and the training efforts of Danny O’Brien after crossing the line.
“She got pushed back to the inside last start and I just couldn’t get momentum on her to get going,”
“Today though she began well, put herself right there and it was a good win.
“I was going as well as it (Whispering Brook) on the turn and I got probably a half-length in front of it, but she fought back really well.”
O’Brien was pleased with Merriest’s performance for success in the Atlantic Jewel Stakes
“She was very in her first start in a race, but didn’t have any luck first-up at Caulfield the other day,” O’Brien said.
“Today Damien was able to get her up on the pace and she showed plenty of fight.
“She didn’t have much of a run first-up, but she had a decent go at her today. That will certainly bring her on.”
O’Brien is yet to confirm a major target for the Denman filly this season, but revealed that she will be entered for the Group 2 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m) at Flemington in a fortnight, with a view towards possibly progressing to the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) in October.
“She settles on the pace and relaxes well in the run, so we’ll try her at 1400m probably in the Guineas Prelude and that will give us a good idea,” he said.
In being crowned the 2016 Atlantic Jewel Stakes winner, Merriest has posted two wins through her four career starts.