The class of Jennifer Eccles has shone through in the Group One New Zealand Oaks with Jason Waddell steering her from the outside barrier to a popular win in the Classic.
Trained by Shaune Ritchie, Jennifer Eccles started the odds-on favourite after two Group Two victories leading into Saturday’s 2400m-feature at Trentham.
Waddell weaved his way across and within first 300m he had found a perfect midfield position, one off the rail.
Jennifer Eccles settled into her rhythm down the back straight but struck trouble when she began to improve her position on the home turn when she clipped a heel and stumbled.
Waddell angled her into clear air, and when she regained her balance she strode to the front and although getting tired, she went on to win by 1-1/2 lengths.
“It wasn’t pretty at the 500 metres,” Waddell said.
“She was going too well, and I had fillies stopping in front of me too soon. I was trying to move her out of the way and just caught a heel.
“But she came back underneath me. I’ve ridden some good horses, and she’s right up at the very top.”
The win was a third in the Oaks for Ritchie, who won it with Keep The Peace in 2010 and trained the quinella with Artistic and Zurella two years later.
“Every Oaks win is a big win,” Ritchie said.
“I love training these three-year-old fillies over ground.
“Keep The Peace was great, and the quinella for The Oaks Stud was wonderful as well, but this filly looks like she could be every bit as good as them – if not better.
“Jason Waddell is unbelievable. From gate 18, you wouldn’t believe he could get across to where he was by the time they went past the finish line for the first time.
“She’s a spectacular filly and has a great turn of foot. We had a few questions about the 2400 metres but she relaxed beautifully down the back straight.”
Bought for $5000 by syndicator Adrian Clark, Jennifer Eccles has now won four of her 11 starts and $499,650.
The big crowd of syndicate members gave Jennifer Eccles a huge ovation as she returned to the winners’ circle.
“It’s wonderful for racing,” Ritchie said. “There’s a huge crowd of them here, albeit not allowed in the birdcage today. It brings such great atmosphere and colour to the game.”
Patrons were restricted in certain areas at Trentham because of coronavirus protocols.
Ritchie said he and Clark would discuss a possible trip to Sydney over the next few days but was mindful she had had a busy campaign.