The result might not have been one the market predicted, but the outcome was certainly the one racing wanted as the colours of the late Paul Makin were carried to success by Winning Ways in an emotional renewal of the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Doomben yesterday.
Trained by Garry Newham, the daughter of Declaration Of War – who was sent off at $21 after a two and a quarter-length eighth in the Group 2 The Roses (2000m) two weeks ago – repelled the sustained late challenge of rank outsider Dawson Diva by a neck, with the same margin back to another roughie, Lady Cuvee, in third. The trifecta with the three horses returned an astonishing $183,652.
Makin, who died aged 82 last week, was an owner with a true international presence, his Australian achievements being headlined best by Starcraft, winner of the 2004 Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) as well as two Group 1 races at the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival in Hastings, the Mudgway Partsworld Stakes (1400m) and Windsor Park Plate (1600m). Makin also raced Starcraft’s daughter We Can Say It Now, a two-time Group 1-winning miler in New Zealand when trained by Murray and Bjorn Baker.
Meanwhile, his European portfolio included a Group 1 Irish Oaks (1m4f) with Chicquita, who became the most expensive horse sold at public auction in Ireland when realising €6 million as part of Makin’s Paulyn Dispersal at the Goffs November Sale in 2013.
Newham understandably cut a delighted figure in the post-race debrief yesterday, paying tribute to Makin and highlighting a potentially elaborate programme for the winner moving forward.
“I had a lot of confidence in her today. Having the race away from Eagle Farm probably dented my hopes a little bit, but I’d always set her for this race,” Newham said.
“Paul (Makin) was looking down on us today – to win in his colours was just amazing.”Paul brought me back to racing when he trusted me with this beautiful filly, I was driving trucks! He’s been amazing to me and I hope we’ve done him and his family proud.”
Reflecting on both the past and the future, Newham added: “I said to Paul six to eight months ago we’ll win the Oaks with this filly and after her run in The Roses he said to me you’re right she will win the Oaks.
“She’s only just scratched the surface this filly. Once she’s fully furnished she could win the Caulfield Cup.”
In securing yesterday’s $500,000 prize, Winning Ways provided jockey Matthew McGillivray with his first top-tier success and this was a fitting way to reach that milestone, not only in the context of the win but in the manner in which it was achieved.
Breaking from barrier nine, McGillivray slid forward on his mount, sitting second going into the bend before letting the leaders press on down the back straight as Winning Ways headed up the second wave of runners.
Making a move passing the 600 metres, Winning Ways was forced to challenge four-deep heading into the bend, but she was granted a clean run to the line and McGillivray had saved enough in reserve to ensure his tenacious partner could cling on for victory.
“This is what we do it for – all the hard yards getting up at 3.30 in the morning, having a sweat, keeping your weight down – it’s all worth it now and this is a dream come true,” the winning rider said.
In securing yesterday’s contest, Winning Ways became the second Group 1 winner for former Coolmore Australia shuttle stallion Declaration Of War, who covered a total of 213 mares during his two southern hemisphere breeding seasons in 2014 and 2015.