Damien Oliver faced a dilemma heading into the Makybe Diva Stakes, but his decision to ride Fawkner has landed the jockey yet another Group One success.
Oliver opted to ride the 2013 Caulfield Cup winner in Saturday’s weight-for-age race at Flemington over up-and-comer Alpine Eagle.
And the champion jockey earned high praise from part-owner Nick Williams after getting Fawkner into the perfect spot early from a wide draw and then guiding the star galloper to a hard-fought win.
“I think it’s as good a ride as I’ve ever seen. What he did in the first 150 metres of that race just showed why he has been the dominant jockey in this country for the last couple of decades,” Williams said.
Having his first start since being unplaced in last year’s Melbourne Cup, Fawkner ($4.80) enjoyed a nice early run with cover and hit the front passing the 200m before holding off the late charge of Rising Romance ($15) to win by a half neck.
Entirely Platinum ($15) held third, another long head away while Boban was diving through for fourth, just ahead of Happy Trails and Alpine Eagle with less than a length between the top six finishers.
“It was tough call,” Oliver said of his decision to ride Fawkner.
“I wouldn’t have been shocked if (Alpine Eagle) got up and won either. He’s a horse with a big future but it’s nice when you go one way and it comes off for you.”
Fawkner went one better than his close second in the race last year and he’ll be aimed at going one better in the Cox Plate as well this spring. “We got into a good spot and the horse did the rest,” Oliver said.
“He’s a marvel for an eight-year-old.
“He keeps coming up for them and it looks like he’s in for a good preparation.”
Oliver has notched more than 100 top-level wins but surprisingly Fawkner was the jockey’s first Group One success for prominent owner Lloyd Williams.
“It’s ironic when I think that Damien as an apprentice rode Mahogany in his first start in 1992 and it’s taken until 2015 for him to ride a Group One winner for us,” Nick Williams said.
“He hasn’t ridden many horses for us.”
Damian Lane was thrilled with the performance of Rising Romance.
“If she gets out a bit earlier, she wins,” Lane said.