Special Diva holds a unique place in Jake Noonan’s heart which has made the filly’s narrow victory at Caulfield all the more significant for the jockey who landed a winning double at the meeting.
Noonan had two rides at Saturday’s meeting and brought up the first leg of his winning double aboard Special Diva who lasted to take out the Margot McCluskey Handicap (1400m) in a tight finish over Alma’s Rossa.
“I love this filly,” Noonan said.
“She’s got a little sentimental place by my heart because Dad trained the mare that she is out of and I actually learned to ride on the mare.”
Special Diva is out of Jacqueline Rouge who Tony Noonan trained for six wins and 10 placings from her 38 starts, including a Listed win in Brisbane in 2009.
“She was a really good, bonny mare, and black-type winner,” Jake Noonan said.
Noonan rode Jacqueline Rouge once in a race, in the final start of her career at Caulfield in April 2010.
“She didn’t do any good that day but she was a good mare and was a good mare to me. I learned to ride from day one on her, so I’ve always liked this filly just because she’s been a bit close to home.”
Special Diva held on to deny Alma’s Rossa by a half-head with Giroux a short half-head away third and Noonan praised her fighting qualities after she raced keenly in front.
It was the second time Noonan had ridden Special Diva from her six starts.
“I stuffed up on her at Wangaratta when she should have won her maiden, so I’m glad I got it right today,” he said.
“She’s got a real will to win and she showed that today.”
Noonan also made his next ride at the meeting count with victory aboard Prussian Vixen ($26) in the Mary Lewis Handicap (1100m) for trainer Michael Mehegan who has a small team in work at Mornington.
Prussian Vixen was bred by Mehegan and he part-owns the mare with his parents and his partner.
Noonan says he rides the majority of Mehegan’s horses and was delighted to win for him.
“He is a good up and coming trainer and it’s good that he can stick by you when he takes these horses to these city meetings,” Noonan said.
“And I was optimistic about her chances.”