It was a tough way for apprentice Teo Nugent to find out he’d won his first Group 1 race in Saturday’s Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield.
Nugent returned to scale not knowing whether to celebrate or commiserate with Portland Sky’s trainer Matt Laurie after the colt crossed the line locked together with Perth mare Celebrity Queen at the end of the $500,000 race.
Celebrity Queen’s rider William Pike had no such worries. He’d had many Group 1 triumphs but Nugent was on new ground in his first ride at the highest level.
But the judge couldn’t split the pair, giving Nugent his maiden Group 1 win, a success he was happy to share with the WA champion.
What a race! Portland Sky and Celebrity Queen couldn't be split in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate. @MelbRacingClub @mattlaurierace @__teamwilliams pic.twitter.com/NR8oPGYRGt
Nugent said he was particularly happy to repay Laurie, who gave him his start to his riding career.
“Four years ago I started off with this crew. They taught me how to ride and a big thank you to them. I’m so thrilled,” Nugent said.
“We’ll share a dead-heat but it’s a first Group 1 (for me) and a big thank you to the team.”
Portland Sky ($10) went to the lead halfway down the straight but Nugent said the last 50m seemed an eternity as he heard Pike urging on Celebrity Queen ($9) to run down the three-year-old.
“It was a long way to the post about 50 metres out with ‘the Wizard’ blowing down my neck,” Nugent said.
What a finish it was. 🙀
Here's the Oakleigh Plate image from both angles. 📸 pic.twitter.com/kcrYIw1OwX
Sharing the Oakleigh Plate spoils was a welcome tonic for Pike, who had run second on Arcadia Queen and Ingratiating in the day’s other Group 1 races, the Futurity Stakes and Blue Diamond, respectively.
“With the day I’m having I’m pretty happy to share one,” Pike said. “The other end is a second so I’ll take this. It’s great to be back. (I’m) eating a bit of humble pie today but I’ll take what I can get.”
Adelaide galloper Kemalpasa ($41) touched off the unlucky Brooklyn Hustle ($11) for third in a blanket finish.
"It was a long way to the post about fifty out when I heard the wizard blowing down my neck."@TeoNugent1 is thrilled to score his first Group 1 victory, albeit [email protected] pic.twitter.com/Wy9JNWc9V7
ON THE PUNT
Trainer PATRICK PAYNE will dig out the history books for some light reading after DEFIBRILLATE posted his fourth straight win in the Listed Mornington Cup Prelude (2000m).
Defibrillate is nominated for the Group 1 Australian Cup at Flemington on Saturday week but the gelding would need to make a significant leap in class to be competitive in the $1.5m event.
“He is nominated for the Australian Cup but I’m going to have to do a bit more research as to whether he goes there or not,” Payne said after BILLY EGAN steered Defibrillate to victory by a long neck. “With horses like ARCADIA QUEEN and others not going that to that race, it might be an opportunity. I’ll need to see where his rating goes after this.”
Defibrillate could also tackle next month’s Mornington Cup, which offers the winner guaranteed Caulfield Cup start.
Defibrillate continued his winning form at Caulfield. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
THE RIGHT ROAD
OXLEY ROAD lived up to PETER MOODY’s assessment of the three-year-old when the colt easily handled a quantum leap in class to win the Group 3 Zeditave Stakes. Oxley Road ($2.50 fav) was a maiden winner on debut at Flemington on January 29 but skipped a few grades to outpoint his opposition from the front under jockey LUKE NOLEN.
Moody said Oxley Road was capable of quickening “like a genuine weight-for-age horse” if ridden off the speed but he has found himself racing near the lead in both outings.
“In his two runs he hasn’t had anything to chase and he’s got a bit lost, as you saw there. When he puts it all together, he’s going to be a very good colt,” Moody said.
KAH SWAYS STEWARDS
JAMIE KAH had to take her prodigious talent into the stewards’ room to keep her win on YES BABY YES in the Group 2 Angus Armanasco Stakes (1400m).
Yes Baby Yes got her head down at the right time to deny the MATT LAURIE-trained MALICORNE victory in the $200,000 race. But jockey DANIEL STACKHOUSE fired in a protest, alleging interference at the 100m. But Kah successfully argued her case to keep the Group 2 win.
Yes Baby Yes survives a protest and wins the Angus Armanasco. 👶🏻@MelbRacingClub @MaluaRacing
HIPS EYES RICH PRIZES
RICH HIPS didn’t earn enough votes to make the All-Star Mile field but the mare could chase a Group 1 target in Sydney after her first-up win in the Group 3 Mannerism Stakes.
Rich Hips ($4.20) notched her third win from four first-up attempts when she overran smart WA mare PERFECT JEWEL ($3.60) to score by a half-length. “It might be quite nice to chase a Coolmore or the Matron Stakes in a couple of weeks time,” said NATALIE YOUNG, who trains Rich Hips in partnership with TRENT BUSUTTIN.
“We’re probably going to have to grow a set of balls, find a fast horse and snag him because we’ve seen him put his head on his chest and really quicken,” Oxley Road’s trainer Peter Moody says the unbeaten colt would be better ridden off the pace.
Originally published asNugent shares magic Group 1 win with ‘wizard’
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