A rails-hugging ride from champion jockey Damien Oliver has helped favourite Viridine to a determined victory in Melbourne’s final stakes race of the 2019-20 season at Caulfield.
The James Cummings-trained Viridine was the $2.70 favourite in Saturday’s weight-for-age Group Three Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) and Oliver was able to position the sprinter midfield early before improving to be in a position to strike entering the home straight.
Oliver was able to take a run along the fence to the inside of Great Again in the straight and Viridine went on to defeat Group One Futurity Stakes winner Streets Of Avalon, who was first-up from a spell, by three-quarters of a length.
Great Again held on for third, another long neck away.
Oliver said he had learned a lot from riding Viridine in the Sir John Monash Stakes at Caulfield two weeks earlier, when the sprinter finished second to Jungle Edge, and was focused on getting him to switch off in Saturday’s race.
“He wasn’t brilliant away so I wanted to work on getting him relaxed and let the rest of the race unfold,” Oliver said.
“He quickened better today when he spat the bit out. I was kind of surveying my options when we came to the turn. I could see them opening up a little bit. One of them was going to the fence and got a bit neat. The horse was going well enough to push through.
“I think he’s well placed around this mark just below the better ones. The short distances are the key, too. James has got him going really well and placing him well.”
A multiple stakes winner and a Group One placegetter, five-year-old Viridine has taken his overall record to eight wins from 28 starts while his career earnings have pushed past $1 million.
For 10-time Melbourne premiership-winning jockey Oliver, it was his 60th metropolitan winner in Victoria for the season.
Saturday’s meeting was the final Melbourne metropolitan meeting of this season.
Oliver finishes second in this season’s Melbourne jockeys’ premiership behind Craig Williams who has claimed his ninth premiership and fifth in a row.
Williams completed his season with a winning double on Saturday to finish 10 ahead of Oliver on 70 wins.