Talented mare Shamal Wind flew home late to record a maiden win at Group level in the 2015 Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield this afternoon.
Jockey Dwayne Dunn elected to settle Shamal Wind towards the tail of the field in the early stages of the race, while Gary Portelli-trained I’m All The Talk made sure that the race was run at a very genuine tempo.
Winona Costin shot clear on I’m All The Talk at the top of the straight before a host of horses loomed as challengers on the outside, but it was Shamal Wind who finished the strongest, while Under The Louvre shot up the inside to deliver trainer Robert Smerdon an Oakleigh Plate quinella.
Dunn said after the race that the race did not work out to plan, but he was thrilled that Shamal Wind was finally able to add a win at the highest level to her racing resume.
“She deserves to win a race like this, she has tried so hard all her life,” Dunn said
“We didn’t have the best of runs in transit to the home bend, but she really sprinted hard for me.
“I was about three pairs further back than I anticipated, but I drew wide and our plan was not to do anything and just let the race unfold.
“She has a good short, sharp sprint and that is what she showed.”
Smerdon had the difficult task of keeping track of both of his 2015 Oakleigh Plate runners throughout the race and he admitted that he had stopped following Shamal Wind in order to focus his attention on Under The Louvre before she stormed into the finish.
The veteran trainer has always been skeptical of whether Shamal Wind was good enough to win at Group 1 level and he praised James Harron as well as the team at Love Racing for keeping faith with the Dubawi mare.
“It is unbelievable and a really good outcome,” Smerdon said.
“I have to watch a replay to see where Shamal Wind came from.
“I was trying to watch them both and I settled on Under The Louvre because I thought that he was in a good spot and he was getting the cheap runs.
“I thought that he was going to win the race, but then she emerged late and I will have to see the replay to appreciate it.
“I have to give credit to James Harron here because I thought that at Group 1 she had her opportunities and fallen short, but once she won that Stakes race he said that they wanted to have a crack at the Group 1 and we would keep her fresh and try to make it a Group 1 scenario.
“They managed it and we did.”
Smerdon has the chance to win another Group 1 event at Caulfield this afternoon when Fontiton starts the 2015 Blue Diamond Stakes as a clear favourite.