Pulchritudinous outstays rivals in New Zealand Oaks

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Almost two decades after riding to victory in the Group 1 (2200m) as an apprentice jockey, multi-talented horseman Chad Ormsby climbed the same mountain in a different way when Pulchritudinous won the Group 1 Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on Saturday.

Ormsby now trains a small team at Cambridge, saddling eight winners so far this season including Pulchritudinous in the Oaks and Group 2 Lowland Stakes (2000m), along with Master Fay in the Group 3 (1200m).

“Things like a Group One win are what we strive for,” Ormsby said. “I really can't thank my team enough. The people on the ground make it all possible.

“We're only a small team, around five racehorses, but we bat above our weight and I'm so grateful to the people around us. My mother-in-law has a share in this filly, along with her partner, and they do so much for us with all the days and nights that they look after our kids. It's a great thrill.”

Training is just one of a number of pursuits for Ormsby, who remarkably won a bull-riding competition at a rodeo on Saturday morning – mere hours before his Oaks triumph.

Ormsby also prepares Ready to Run Sale drafts under his banner, and Oaks heroine Pulchritudinous was originally intended to be a pinhook for that two-year-old sale at Karaka. Ormsby bought the Wrote filly for $32,500 as a yearling at Karaka 2022, but she was passed in when he offered her with a $50,000 reserve at the Ready to Run Sale later that year.

“A lot of pride and joy goes into a filly like this, who we bought cheaply and ended up not being able to sell,” Ormsby said. “She's managed to go on and prove herself.”

Pulchritudinous showed promise with a 1400m maiden win in her second career start back in October, but it has only been in the last eight days that she has really made her mark.

She stepped up beyond 1600m for the first time and scored an impressive win in the rescheduled Lowland Stakes at Taupo on March 8, then stepped into the Group One spotlight for the Oaks barely a week later.

Ridden by , Pulchritudinous settled in ninth place alongside the rail as Rocks set a solid pace out in front and turned the fillies' classic into a true staying test.

Kennedy got her off the fence at the 700m mark and began to creep closer, moving up behind the leading pack and poised to pounce.

Pulchritudinous swooped around the home turn and quickly loomed large on the outside of , , Qali Al Farrasha and Race Ace. Kennedy sent Pulchritudinous into full flight at the 300m mark and she surged to the lead, pulling away from Positivity and Qali Al Farrasha to win by a length and three-quarters in an impressive display of stamina and class.

Pulchritudinous has now had seven starts for three wins and a placing, earning $389,205 in stakes.

“We nominated her for the Oaks very early and always had hope,” Ormsby said. We thought there might be some concerns around whether we might get there or if it might come up a bit too soon for her, but the ability was always there. I'm really, really rapt.”

Last year's Oaks was the first leg of a classic double for Pennyweka, who added the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick in her next start. Ormsby is unsure whether he will attempt to follow the same path.

“I don't know about that, and I think maybe the paddock might be beckoning,” he said. “But having said that, she hasn't batted an eyelid with anything that we've chucked at her so far, and that's a great attribute to have.”

Kennedy took special satisfaction from Saturday's Oaks victory, having previously been cruelly denied a win in the South African equivalent.

“I've always wanted to win an Oaks,” he said. “ hit when I had a really good chance in South Africa, so I couldn't travel to ride her. I missed out on what turned out to be a winning ride. So to win one here in my new home is fantastic.

“We found a dream spot in the running and she travelled sweetly all the way. She really worked away at them down the straight and won with a bit in hand in the end.

“She's very progressive. She's only tried this sort of trip twice now and won both times. She's done the job today and done it really well.”

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