Caulfield-trained favourite Jameka streaked away to beat the internationals in the $3.5 million Caulfield Cup.
Given a perfect ride from Nick Hall, Jameka, the $4.20 favourite, sprinted clear to beat Godolphin stayer Scottish ($7) with Exospheric ($15) finishing third.
In a race of many changes, Jameka was positioned just off the pace after Hall sent her forward with Tally from a deep barrier.
She stalked the leaders to the turn before making her run to join Scottish at the 200m and then drew clear for a decisive win.
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Hall said the result was a triumph for trainer Ciaron Maher’s meticulous planning.
“He’s done an exceptional job and he’s such a great trainer of campaign horses,” Hall said.
“And this goes to show the way he’s prepped this run by run is to win this race and he’s won it.”
Maher trains at Caulfield and it is his first win in a race rated alongside the Melbourne Cup and the Cox Plate among a trio of the Melbourne spring carnival’s most sought-after targets.
“It was just fantastic. It’s one of the big three and we’re thrilled,” Maher said.
“She’s a rare horse. I think she’s an extraordinary horse. I think she proved that today.”
On the ease of her win, bookmakers have promoted Jameka to equal favouritism at $5 to win the Melbourne Cup.
Octagonal dies aged 24
When Darren Beadman looks back on his glittering career in the saddle, Octagonal stands tall as a true champion.
Beadman rode Octagonal to five of his 10 Group One wins and said he was shocked and saddened to hear the horse had been euthanased on Caulfield Cup morning at the age of 24.
Four of their Group One wins together came in the autumn of 1996 when Octagonal claimed the Canterbury Guineas, Rosehill Guineas, Mercedes Classic and Australian Derby, racing four Saturdays out of five.
He was up against what is still hailed as a benchmark group of three-year-olds including Saintly, Nothin’ Leica Dane and Filante.
“He was a back marker so he was always vulnerable and never won by big margins,” Beadman said.
“So he was always vulnerable but he went to war for you.”
Beadman said their four-win sequence in the autumn of 1996 by bare margins showed Octagonal’s true standing.
“Sometimes you’d have your heart in your mouth but I always had faith in him and he delivered,” Beadman said.
“He was a champion.”
In the breeding barn, Octagonal sired his own champion Lonhro who in turn produced one of his own, Pierro.
Octagonal was raced by Jack and Bob Ingham and was part of the package when the latter sold his Woodlands racing and breeding operation to Sheikh Mohammed.
“The Big O as he was affectionately known, was still bright and alert mentally but was struggling physically,” Darley said on Saturday.
From the first crop by Cambridge Stud stallion Zabeel, Octagonal was prepared throughout his career by the Ingham’s private trainer John Hawkes.
“It is a sad day as Octagonal is an old favourite of everyone and he will be sorely missed. He was such a lovely horse to deal with and such a big part of Woodlands,” Woodlands general manager John Sunderland said.
Octagonal will be buried at Woodlands, where he has spent the majority of the past 16 years, alongside Canny Lad.