Sport Racing Jameka outlasts rivals to claim Victoria Oaks
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Jameka outlasts rivals to claim Victoria Oaks

Damien Oliver and Jameka
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Jameka has shone brightest in the $1 million Victoria Oaks on a day black clouds brought torrential rain that deluged Flemington.

The Ciaron Maher-trained filly ploughed through the heavy conditions to claim the 2500-metre classic from Honesta and Ambience.

The Oaks was run under bright sunshine, but a massive downpour after race four saw the track downgraded to a heavy 9 and forced the start times for the remaining races to be pushed back.

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As the storm cell passed through Melbourne there were reports of tornadoes in the city’s north-west.

Damien Oliver settled Jameka right on the pace in a race that was devoid of speed and he backed himself before the turn and pinched a winning break.

“I thought no one would want to take it up but I wasn’t going to hesitate to be the one,” said Oliver, who has now won the race four times.

“I had a lot of faith in this filly’s staying ability. She was going too easy a long way from home. I had to let her go.

“She’s had a faultless preparation. Credit to Ciaron Maher and the staff. Nothing’s gone wrong for her.

“We thought early she had Oaks Day written all over her and it’s great when a plan comes together.”

Jim Cassidy
Jim Cassidy after riding his last career ride in Race 9 on Oaks Day at Flemington. Photo: Getty

The win was Oliver’s 108th Group One victory and takes him alongside Roy Higgins, but they still trail George Moore on 119.

Maher, who won the Oaks last year with Set Square, bought Jameka as a yearling and said she was a filly that he could not let go.

“She’s not bred for the trip but everything about her says she’s a nice stayer,” Maher said.

“Full credit to Damien. He knows her well.

“I think the first time he sat on her when she was a two-year-old, I never put her down as an Oaks filly, but he sat on her one day at trackwork and she said she felt like an Oaks Day filly.

“He was pretty right.”

Wakeful Stakes winner Ambience was well backed to start the favourite and she loomed to challenge inside the 200m but peaked on her run as Honesta closed along the inside.

There was a big gap back to Pasadena Girl in fourth, while one-time favourite Sacred Eye drifted markedly in the betting and finished seventh after a wide run.

Thursday was hall of fame jockey Jim Cassidy’s last day riding and he missed out on a Group One farewell after his Oaks mount Dawnie Perfect was scratched.

But the Victoria Racing Club paid tribute to the Pumper after race three and his colleagues formed a guard of honour as he was introduced to the crowd.

-ABC

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