Damien Oliver claimed a slice of history at Flemington on Thursday, tying Bobby Lewis with his seventh win in the Kennedy Oaks aboard the short-priced favourite Willowy.
The champion hoop traveled into the straight out wide aboard the Godolphin three-year-old, which turned out to be the ideal spot to reel in the very brave Douceur in the three-year-old staying feature.
It was a nervous watch, but Olly’s late lunge at the line saw the $3.60 pop salute for punters, while the win also brought up his 126th Group 1 victory.
Oliver said after the race that he was honored to be up there with names like Bobby Lewis, but he admitted he thought Douceur had his number over the final furlong.
“I thought the second horse had us cold inside the 200m. I tried everything, maybe I took the riding to another level, I don’t know,” Oliver told Racing.com.
Willowy was earmarked for the Oaks when she won her maiden at Newcastle last month by close to five lengths over the mile.
She backed that performance up with a strong win the Wakeful Stakes at Flemington over 2000m, and has shown nothing but improvement in her rise through the grades.
Trainer James Cummings said the future looks very bright for the daughter of Kermadec, a stallion that has now produced an Oaks winner and a Metropolitan winner in Montefilia this year.
“She reminds me a lot of Faint Perfume, who won this race back in 2008. You’d have to think next preparation she’s got a lot left in her,” Cummings said after the race.
Douceur, meanwhile, gained plenty of admirers with a very brave finish.
Patrick Payne’s filly took up the lead at the 400m mark and wouldn’t go down without a fight thanks to some brilliant riding from Michael Dee.
Elusive Express managed to filly the frame in fourth, with Sebring filly Daisies just missing out 2.5L fifth.
The complete 2021 Kennedy Oaks finishing order, courtesy of Ladbrokes, is available here.