Saturday’s Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes shaped as one of the most wide-open races at Flemington, and it certainly lived up to the hype as Godolphin’s classy mare Colette got the job done at double figures.
The mare by Hallowed Crown was shooting for a double after winning the Group 2 Tristarc Stakes at Caulfield two weeks ago over 1400m, while she was also a winner on Derby Day last year, only in Sydney.
The five-year-old won the second edition of the Golden Eagle on a very wet track at Rosehill, before resuming in the autumn to win the Apollo Stakes at Randwick, prior to a narrow runner-up to Verry Elleegant in the Group 1 Chipping Norton.
Colette had proven herself over the mile before, but with all of her wins coming on rain-affected going, she did look a genuine query on a firm track at Headquarters.
Fortunately, Damien Oliver was able to put those doubts to bed by working home beautifully along the fence, right before pushing the button 100m out from the post.
For Olly, the win marked his third victory in the Empire Rose over the last decade, as well as Group 1 No. 121.
“It’s a bit emotional. It was great. It was nice to get back on her, she’s been such a great filly and it was nice to win a race like that,” Oliver told Racing.com.
Colette was having her fourth run back on Saturday after resuming to finish three lengths behind Behemoth in the Memsie.
She failed to fire second-up on a firm deck in the Makybe Diva, before striking a wet track last time out to win the Tristarc by over a length.
Trainer James Cummings said the stable originally had the Caulfield Cup in their sights, but the way things panned out led them to believe she could run well in the Empire Rose.
“The placements been key for Colette and she’s turned in a magnificent career already,” Cummings said.
“To avoid the Empire Rose 12 months ago so she could run in the Golden Eagle was one big decision, and the next one happened to be 12 months later when we felt like she was building to something all preparation.
“We had the Caulfield Cup on our minds, but when that wasn’t unfolding the way we needed it to be she freshened-up early for the Tristarc and that set her up beautifully for today.”
Mystic Journey turned in another brave performance and looked the likely winner at one point with a bursting run out wide.
The Tasmanian lost no admirers finding the money for the third this prep, while Hungry Heart did well to fill the minors.
The 2021 Empire Rose Stakes finishing order can be viewed here.