Lisa Allpress rode the perfect race aboard the Lisa Latta-trained Sentimental Miss to win Saturday’s Group 1 $400,000 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks but coming to the home bend she had her doubts whether she was in the right spot to take out the 2400m feature.
Allpress had given the daughter of Reliable Man an economical run from the number two barrier, settling the filly three-back on the fence and travelling comfortably. But, passing the 800m, she started to think back to when she was a much younger jockey and some stern advice she was given then.
She recalled that when she was serving her apprenticeship under top trainer Kevin Gray she always had fellow jockey Bruce Herd in her ear, giving her advice. And when she started race-riding for Lisa Latta Herd would always say: “Don’t get caught three-back the fence.”
So, for a fleeting moment, Allpress thought she was going to get caught in exactly that position on Sentimental Miss until things started to happen coming to the home bend and she was able to move forward.
“We were just getting a lovely run, she was very relaxed and first time in blinkers. I was conscious of Murray Baker’s horses (Rubira and Queen Of Diamonds) in front of me and they started dragging me into the run but they were under the bat.
“I thought I need to be a bit more patient but when it got to the top of the straight patience went out the window but she just kept fighting.”
Allpress was able to push Sentimental Miss into the open and, after a brief bump with another runner, the filly seemed to get a resurgence of energy as she forged clear to win by 1-1/4 lengths.
Outsiders filled the first three placings in this year’s New Zealand Oaks, with Sentimental Miss returning a dividend of $21.10 for a win and $5.50 for a place while runner up Beyond The Fort paid $9.00 for a place and third placed Star Karen was one of the rank outsiders, returning a place dividend of $15.90.
For Allpress it was her sixth Group 1 win and her first in the New Zealand Oaks while for trainer Lisa Latta it was her second success in the race after producing Wharite Princess to win in 2004.
Latta said the addition of blinkers was the key to extracting the best out of Sentimental Miss on Saturday after the filly only managed ninth at her last start, in the Group 2 Lowland Stakes (2100m) at Hastings last month.
“We walked away from the Lowland wondering whether we should press on or not, but we decided to put the blinkers on today and I think that has made a huge difference,” Latta said.
“When she came through on the inside I thought she’d do well if she could run third or fourth.
“But she is bred to stay and it’s fantastic.
“She is a very easy filly and that’s why putting the blinkers on today didn’t really worry us.”
Sentimental Miss was a $40,000 purchase from the select session of the 2017 Karaka yearling sales and part of The Oaks Stud draft. She is raced by the Go Racing Yesteryear Syndicate, one of several successful syndicates put together by Go Racing head Albert Bosma.
“It’s a great training performance,” Bosma said.
“She is such a laid-back filly that we had no doubt about the ground and that she’d stay.
“It’s funny, she was the last horse we syndicated in her year. It took us ages to get her done and now it’s a great result. She’s a very good staying filly and there is a lot more in front of her.”
Bosma said former successful thoroughbred trainer Merv Andrews, now in his 80s, is a member of the Go Racing Yesteryear Syndicate along with several others who have been involved with Go Racing syndications for a long time.
“It is the ultimate, it’s the top level and this is what we do it for,” Bosma added.
Sentimental Miss becomes the first Group 1 winner for young Westbury Stud sire Reliable Man.