Co-trainer Murray Baker made no secret of his admiration for Opie Bosson's talents after winning the $70,000 Westbury Classic at Ellerslie yesterday.
"Opie showed why he is the best jockey in New Zealand," said Baker during the official presentation for upset winner Diademe.
Bosson certainly deserved some credit for the victory.
Natural on-pace runner Fleur de Lune pounced out, after which Bosson took a risk by taking her on and searching for the front himself.
The risk came from that move being against the usual pattern of both horses.
In retrospect, the danger was missing.
Jason Jago seemed happy to hand up to Diademe and the relatively inexperienced mare had a largely uncontested lead.
"I knew she would go forward, but I thought she would sit outside Fleur de Lune," said co-trainer Andrew Forsman.
"She certainly didn't have to work to lead."
Diademe had plenty left when she passed the 400m and there was not one stride of the home straight where she looked in possible danger.
Final Touch finished strongly from three back along the rail to take second, with Fleur de Lune holding third.
Amberio took fourth from Kekova.
Well-fancied Viadana had something of an excuse, being caught back and wide from her outside barrier.
She made ground bravely and did not attract anything of a disappointing tag.
Favourite Xanadu battled and it has to be said her seventh was below par.
Co-trainer Ken Kelso thought Xanadu probably wasn't suited by racing handier than usual.
"And she's not as good racing right-handed," he said.
Yesterday's $70,000 McKee Family Sunline Vase was not about putting in a Sunline performance, but the upcoming Oaks at Trentham was in the frame pre-race.
The winner, More Than Sacred, is now definitely Oaks-bound after the Pike/Donoghue stable had given no consideration to the group one classic before the More Than Ready filly finished third in the Sir Tristram Classic at Te Rapa last start.
In that, More Than Sacred looked beaten in the home straight, but kept finding and finding, suggesting the 2400m of the Oaks was going to suit perfectly.
"Today was D-day, she had to win to justify going forward to the Oaks and she's done that," said co-trainer Tony Pike.
Ray's Girl looked certain to win when she burst to the front in the home straight, but More Than Sacred gradually wore her down to eventually win comfortably, if not by a wide margin. "The harder she's ridden the more she responds," said Tony Pike. "She's more than earned the $6900 Oaks late entry fee."By Mike Dillon Email Mike