By Ray Hickson
At Royal Randwick
Champion trainer Chris Waller has long predicted big things for Unforgotten and he’s adamant the best is yet to come after a famous Australian Oaks win at Royal Randwick.
The filly completed a huge turnaround in fortunes in the last six weeks from running last in the Surround Stakes in early March to victory in the Group 1 $1m James Boag’s Premium Australian Oaks (2400m).
“She had the perfect run the way the race was run. It was good to see her get the upper hand with about 100m to go,’’ Waller said.
“I think she has a very bright future, that’s the most exciting part of this win.’’
Waller, along with Winx’s managing owner Peter Tighe, is in the ownership of Unforgotten and the Winx connection was completed with Hugh Bowman steering her to a classic win, turning the tables on a gallant Hiyaam from the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) two weeks earlier.
Unforgotten finishes over the top of Hiyaam to win the Australian Oaks at Royal Randwick
It appeared Hiyaam’s jockey Michael Dee had ridden the perfect race when she dashed for home on the turn but Bowman had the final shot at her and Unforgotten gained the upper hand to win by a length with a big gap to outsider Miss Admiration in third.
Waller said he was concerned whether Unforgotten had given away too much start but always had faith in her class carrying her through.
“You never stop worrying in this job. Yeah of course I was,’’ he said.
“When I did see that speed, like everybody else, the first question was her stamina and whether that would hold up for a three-year-old filly it’s quite a long way 2400m and you don’t know until you run it.”
“She had the perfect run the way the race was run. The filly that ran second was the one who beat her home last time so we knew that was the one to chase and she set about chasing and it was good to see her get the upper hand with about 100m to go.
“Full credit to the second horse to do it all the way.”
It was Waller’s second Oaks win, following Royal Descent in 2013 and a fifth success for Bowman who has now ridden the past three winners of the Oaks.
Bowman said he was always confident of picking up Hiyaam as far as 400m from home.
“I was always confident, I had such a lovely run in transit, I worked her on Tuesday morning so I knew what she was capable of.’’
With that said Bowman admitted he had his doubts as to whether Unforgotten would make it to Oaks day after that failure in the Surround Stakes.
“I haven’t had a lot to do with her this preparation, the team said she was our Oaks filly but after her trials I wasn’t convinced,’’ he said.
“After her first up run I still wasn’t convinced, but from then once she’s got out to a suitable distance they know what they’re talking about the Chris Waller stable.
“She’s a lovely filly, we had a slight concern of her running a strong mile and a half, it was a staying test today and this filly came through with flying colours.”