Champion jockey Damien Oliver added another Group One winner to his amazing resume but it was a first for the training team of Tom Dabernig and Ben Hayes when they combined with Personal to win the VRC Oaks.
For Oliver it was his sixth win in the fillies classic, his 122nd Group One and his 23rd elite victory at the Flemington carnival.
Only Bobbie Lewis with seven VRC Oaks and 24 Group One Melbourne Cup carnival wins is in front of Oliver in both fields.
Ben Hayes said after finishing second in two Group One races this spring – with Personal in the Thousand Guineas and Aysar in the Caulfield Guineas – it was a relief to get one up in their name.
Hayes and his cousin Dabernig took over the training of Lindsay Park when his father David Hayes relocated to Hong Kong in the middle of the year.
When Personal won her debut at Flemington in January, Hayes senior likened her to Miss Finland, who also won the VRC Oaks in 2006, and he was proven correct.
The VRC Oaks was Personal’s second win in nine starts but Dabernig pointed out that she had been racing at the top level and finished third in the Blue Diamond and second in the Thousand Guineas.
“She can sprint and stay and she’s got some magnificent attributes. I think we haven’t seen the best of her yet. I think there is still more to come,” Dabernig said.
Personal was a $640,000 buy at the Sydney Easter Yearling Sale and is by Fastnet Rock out of a Galileo mare.
It was a textbook Oliver ride as he eased her back at the start into fourth last position and kept creeping up out wide before the turn.
It appeared Salto Angel and Montefilia would fight the race out but Personal grabbed them with 100 metres to go and hit the front with 50 metres to go.
Oliver said it was a good, tough effort by Personal.
“It was a real slog, the last four or five hundred metres with the second and third horses,” Oliver said.
“She’s had a great prep and hadn’t been able to win but she’s won the one that mattered. She’s was really tough and it was a good win.”
Oliver said that Personal had peaked physically on the day which was a credit to Hayes and Dabernig.
Personal ($6) defeated Salto Angel ($21) by 1-1/4 lengths with the same margin away third to the $1.80 favourite Montefilia.
Hugh Bowman rode Montefilia and said he thought she failed to run the distance.