The Chris Waller juggernaut continued today at Flemington with the champion trainer winning the 2014 Victoria Derby with maidener Preferment.
And big race jockey Damien Oliver made it back to back Group 1 wins after taking out the previous race, the weight for age $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) on the popular Group 1 performer Happy Trails.
Oliver drove Preferment hard to the line to score a narrow win over the Danny O’Brien trained Bondeiger with Nozomi in third place.
But the day has belonged to Waller who prior to winning the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m), took out the Group 1 $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) with Brazen Beau as well as the first race on the program the Group 3 $200,000 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) with Kermadec.
And Ironically it was Oliver aboard Happy Trails who beat the Waller trained He’s Your Man in a tight Mackinnon Stakes finish.
Today’s Victoria Derby win was Oliver’s fifth in the blue riband for the three year olds after victories on Redding (1992), Amalfi (2001), Elvstroem (2003) and Fiveandahalfstar (2012).
Oliver was instrumental with Waller’s decision to remove the blinkers and replace them with the winkers after Preferment ran second to Nozomi in the Listed $120,000 Emsley Lodge Racing Geelong Classic (2200m) at Geelong on October 22.
“I was just a bit concerned going in with the blinkers on such a big day. The gear change worked well. Chris was very understanding and we had a little bit of a chat about it and we decided to go this way,” Oliver said.
Oliver settled Preferment near the tail of the field and no luck getting near the fence and was caught three wide in the early and middle stages.
“I didn’t have much luck on him getting in but racing there was not the worst place to be on this horse,” Oliver said.
“Coming around the turn I just wanted to wait to see if I could suck one out in front of me, fortunately Magicool came out and I was able to get a bit of cover from that wind.”
“Very brave in the straight.”
“He could be back here on the Tuesday next year. He is a real stayer and I think he is only going to get better.”
Waller agreed and said that Preferment certainly looked good enough to bring back to Flemington next year for the 2015 Melbourne Cup.
“The Melbourne Cup is the next step I guess. It’s good to know that you have a horse that is good enough.”
Preferment drifted slightly in the betting in the lead up to the Victoria Derby to start at $8.50 before scoring by a head over $11 chance Bondeiger with Nozomi ($41) one and a quarter lengths away in third spot.
The Gai Waterhouse trained Hampton Court was sent out the $2.45 favourite but after racing in the leading division faded in the straight to finish eighth, beaten six and a half lengths.