Zoustar stamped himself as the best three-year-old in Australia and gave veteran jockey Jim Cassidy his 100th victory at Group 1 level with a strong win in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington this afternoon.
Cassidy positioned Zoustar at the outside of the field, who was having his first run up the famous Flemington straight, and kept the son of Northern Meteor under a heavy hold before letting him loose with 250 meters left to run.
Zoustar responded immediately when asked for an extra effort and accelerated away from the rest of the field to record an impressive win from lightly-raced Not Listenin’tome and Mick Price-trained Lion Of Belfort.
Cassidy joins George Moore (119 wins) and Roy Higgins (108 wins) as the only jockeys in the history of Australian racing to record 100 Group 1 wins and was clearly emotional to have achieved such a significant milestone on one of the biggest days on the racing calendar.
“It is magnificent to be in a group with Roy and George Moore,” Cassidy said after the race.
“I owe it to the Pumpa team, without them I couldn’t have done it, and I thank all the owners and trainers that have supported me from the bottom of my heart.
“To Chris Waller, for the opportunities that he has given me the last couple of year, I can’t thank him enough.”
The veteran jockey has had a high opinion of Zoustar since he partnered him during the 2013 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival and was extremely impressed with the way that he handled the Flemington straight this afternoon.
“I travelled like a machine,” Cassidy said.
“Normally you don’t expose them too early but he went up the straight like a machine today.”
Waller has been under a great deal of pressure in the lead-up to the Coolmore Stud Stakes; with a $4 million bonus riding on the result of the race after Zoustar’s connections completed a stud deal with Widden earlier in the week.
The leading trainer was quick to pay credit to the achievement of Cassidy and said that he was simply relieved that the race, as well as the stud negations, was out of the way.
“It is hard to take the moment away from Jimmy and he has been a bit help to me and he has been a big help to a lot of trainers,” Waller said.
“I feel very privileged to be a part of his career.
“He has the crown of being the best three-year-old in the country and he has defended it up the straight.
“It didn’t look pretty eight days ago when he had his jump-out but he worked well on Tuesday and there has been this deal on the table.
“You have no idea how many things go on and to the horses credit he has dealt with it, he has had vet examinations and reproductive organs checked, and he hasn’t batted an eyelid.
“He is just the most professional horse on the track and he is a superstar.”
Cassidy does not have a ride in the three Group 1 events remaining on the Victoria Derby Day card but will have an opportunity to add another major race victory to his incredible resume when he partners Waller-trained Hawkspur in the Group 1 2013 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday.