Jim Cassidy has given trainer Joe Pride a Group One birthday present and his fellow jockeys a lesson aboard Steps In Time in the Coolmore Classic at Rosehill.
Cassidy took the initiative early in Saturday’s fillies and mares feature, ensuring it would be a true test while giving his mare every chance to run out the 1500 metres.
It was a distance she had attempted only twice before when unplaced in the past two Coolmore Classics when trained by John O’Shea.
With O’Shea’s impending appointment as Darley’s head trainer, the mare’s owners decided to give her a new home to ensure the continuity of what is likely to be her final campaign.
“What a birthday present,” the 42-year-old Pride said.
“It was a bold ride by Jimmy. He only just got it right but he did and that’s the main thing.”
With Cassidy riding her hard to the line, Steps In Time ($8) held off Sweet Idea ($21) by a short half head with favourite Catkins ($4.20) 2-1/4 lengths third.
“I’m hard to beat when I’m front,” Cassidy said.
“I was probably a bit cocky but I said to Joe if I got cheap sectionals I could pinch it.
“Six hundred metres from home I thought if I could make the others carry their weight it would be hard to get past her and I put the pedal to the metal.
“I knew Sweet Idea was close but I knew I had it.”
Cassidy is one of only four jockeys to win 100 Group One races in Australasia and as he brought up No. 102 his thoughts turned to fellow rider Nathan Berry who is battling serious illness in Singapore.
“I love what I do but there are always other things away from racing that are important,” he said.
“My thoughts are with Nathan and his family.”
Sweet Idea’s trainer Gai Waterhouse said the filly would now go to the TJ Smith Stakes (1200m), also a possible target for the winner.
“They caught her napping and Jimmy was just too brilliant,” Waterhouse said.
“She was gallant in defeat. I will freshen her up and take her to the TJ Smith.”
Chris Waller is likely to go up in distance to the Doncaster Mile with Catkins and fifth-placed Royal Descent.
“Catkins had her chance,” he said.
“She was still very brave with the big weight and she was made to carry that weight the way they took off at the 600 and Royal Descent got home really well.”
Japanese mare Hana’s Goal created much interest from television crews from her home country but things went pear shaped when she missed the start and had to work hard to tack on to the field.
She was a spent force and beat just two runners home but her jockey Craig Williams said the experience would help as she heads to the Doncaster.