Controversial jockey Damien Oliver scored his second Group 1 win over this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival with Happy Trails taking out the Group 1 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington today.
Oliver is under investigation for betting but has put the thoughts of the inquiry to the back of his mind to produce a well timed run on Happy Trails to nose out the favourite Fawkner to collect his first Emirates Stakes win.
Today’s Emirates win comes on the back of Oliver winning on Fiveandahalfstar in the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington last Saturday.
Winning trainer Paul Beshara was able to turn Happy Trails form around after the five year old was well beaten in the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley two weeks ago.
“This is a great moment,” Beshara said.
“And a good one for Damien too. Damien’s always stuck by me. If I wanted anyone to ride track work he’s come down so he deserves this win so does this horse.”
Beshara said that Happy Trails never got into his rhythm in the Cox Plate and expected him to produce his best at Flemington.
“He just didn’t have any luck. He just got laid on and he was never in rhythm and when horses can’t get them rhythm they can’t win. Today Damien rode him how he should be ridden.”
Oliver made his move at the 300m and started to wind up Happy Trails from back in the field while Nicholas Hall had Fawkner securing a run towards the inside and the pair fought out the finish with Happy Trails getting the nod in on the line to win his first Group 1 race.
“I’m thankful that I could get their first Group 1 with this horse,” Oliver said.
“He’s promised so much and he’s really delivered this campaign.”
“He’s really stepped up and I was rueing the fact that I missed him earlier in his campaign this time and even before the Cox Plate I said to Paul don’t forget me for this race I think he can win it. Paul did a great job to freshened him up.”
In a tight driving finish top Sydney mare Secret Admirer was driving home hard on the outside and was only another head away in third spot with Group 1 winner Yosei poking up on the fence for fourth.