Pinot outstayed her rivals to deliver trainer Gai Waterhouse a maiden VRC Oaks victory at Flemington this afternoon.
Pinot was expected to take up the running in the early stages of the race, but she missed the start and it was Rimraam that took up the running from the odds-on favourite Aloisia.
Stephen Baster wasn’t happy to sit in the middle of the VRC Oaks field and he elected to press forward on Pinot and turn the race into a genuine staying contest.
Pinot did plenty of work to get to the front and she looked like a sitting shop at the top of the straight, but she was able to fight off Thousand Guineas winner Aloisia and outstayed Luvaluva to record a simply outstanding victory.
Baster said after the race that he didn’t want to die wondering on Pinot in the VRC Oaks and he was clearly delighted that his decision to press forward when he did have paid dividends.
“She jumped up in the air as the gates opened and she missed it by two,” Baster said.
“I was going to go to plan B because she switched off and was very relaxed, but then I saw Aloisia up there outside the leader and I wasn’t going to be able to outsprint it from back there.
“I went around them, went against everything that I’ve been taught as a jockey and put the pressure on.
“We got an easy half-mile there and she relaxed so well.
“They came at me, but I still knew I had gears left and she is just a deadest star.”
Baster has developed an outstanding relation with the stable of Adrian Bott over the past 12 months and he said that it meant a great deal to him to ride Waterhouse’s first ever VRC Oaks winner.
“I’ve been working for them for years and I’ve had winners for them for years,” Baster said.
“This year has just been unbelievable.
“I’ve been riding for a long time and I never thought that I would ride Gai’s first Oaks winner.
“It is amazing that she hasn’t done it before now, she is such a great trainer and she is so good for racing.
“This filly is only going to keep improving.”
Waterhouse sent four horses to Melbourne at the start of the Spring with the dream of winning the VRC Oaks for the first time and she said after the race that she has been simply delighted with the improvement that Pinot has made this preparation.
The leading trainer was quick to pay credit to the gutsy ride of Baster and she believes that Pinot will only get better as an older horse.
“She is good, she is really good,” Waterhouse said.
“She kicked their brains in today.
“It gave me a little shock, but I just love the way that Steve took his time and he didn’t spend a penny.
“The further she went the bigger the margin.
“This is special.
“She came to Melbourne as a maiden and with no accolades or anything.
“Her first race in Melbourne she ran a piddly little sixth, but she has not looked back since then.
“She is everything that a trainer or owner could dream about.”
The big disappointment in the 2017 VRC Oaks was Aloisia.
She was a late drifter in betting after she was re-shoed at the barriers and she was one of the first horses beaten when the pressure went on at the top of the straight.