A narrow victory in the Group Three Sandown Stakes on Gold Fields has given jockey Stephen Baster a memorable finish to his career.
Baster was riding at his final meeting on Saturday before retiring to begin a new career as a real estate agent on the Mornington Peninsula from Monday.
In his final ride of a career spanning 28 years, Baster was able to win aboard seven-year-old gelding Gold Fields who held on to defeat Mr Exclusive in a photo finish to the 1500m race.
Gold Fields is trained by Logan McGill who, like Baster before him, was a former apprentice jockey to Mark Riley.
“It’s just amazing,” Baster said.
“Even if I didn’t win on him today he was going to be my last winner because I won the Sale Cup on him and haven’t had a winner since then.
“But this is a bit of a fairytale really.
“I probably didn’t imagine him winning, to tell you the truth. I was just happy to be riding him for my last ride, with the Mark Riley and the Logan McGill connection.
“I had a ride for Gai Waterhouse earlier in the day as well. So it’s been a great day.”
The win was not without incident though, with stewards later fining Baster $1000 for breaching the whip rules.
His final Group One victory came aboard Pinot, trained by Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, in the 2017 VRC Oaks at Flemington.
Baster nominates those wins as a couple of his career highlights.
“I’ll give you three,” Baster said.
“Mookta winning either of his Group Ones when I was still claiming three kilos. Awesome Rock coming out and winning the Mackinnon Stakes (in 2016) after losing the Australian Cup on protest was massive. And obviously Pinot in the VRC Oaks.”
Baster, who is also chairman of the Victorian Jockeys Association, said he loves racing and finishing with a win was “amazing”.
He’s also looking forward to starting his new career.
Gold Fields ($4.80) defeated Mr Exclusive ($13) by a short half-head with 1-1/4-lengths to Travimyfriend in third.
“I’m going to miss all the jockeys in the rooms and I’m going to miss the horses but it’s been a great career,” he said.