Pinot gives Waterhouse sweet taste of success in first Oaks win

An American law graduate who has only ever bought one horse in Australia, after encouragement from Gai Waterhouse, helped the Hall of Fame trainer to her first win in the Victoria Oaks when Pinot gave her rivals a start and a beat them at Flemington.

Waterhouse has few boxes left to tick in her ground-breaking career - she is still yet to win an Australian Derby - but she managed to finally win the three-year-old fillies classic, which has long eluded her, on Thursday.

Odds-on favourite Aloisia was easy in betting and needed to be reshod behind the gates, labouring into sixth as Stephen Baster gradually circled the field to settle Pinot close to the speed after her awful beginning.

"It's very special," said Waterhouse, who trains in partnership with Adrian Bott.

"She came to Melbourne a maiden, with no accolades whatsoever. She ran a piddly sixth on her first start, but since then she's improved out of sight. She's just a gem, a real trainer's dream.

"She's very good; she kicked their brains in today. I got a bit of a fright when she didn't jump out of the gates, but Stephen just took his time with her. He didn't spend a penny, and the further she went, the bigger the margin."

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Aron Wellman jetted in from the US for the race and celebrated a group 1 with the first and only yearling he has bought on these shores.

"I didn't think we would ever be able to afford her because of her pedigree, but she was just hanging around at $175,000," he said. "I raised my hand one time and that was it.

"If it weren't for Gai we would have never come down to Australia to begin with. The experience from day one has been remarkable. The service they provide is outstanding, but the horsemanship they've utilised with this filly throughout the whole process has been absolutely masterful."

Baster's horsemanship was top notch as well, never fretting after he missed the kick and gradually circling the field down the Maribyrnong River side to settle in a forward position.

Aloisia and Wakeful Stakes heroine Luvaluva ambled up to challenge at the top of the straight, but Pinot rallied to win by a 1?? lengths from Bring Me The Roses with Hiyaam in third.

"I've been riding a long time now, and there's no way I thought I'd ride Gai's first winner in the Oaks," Baster said. "It's amazing that she hasn't done it before. She's such a great trainer and she's so great for racing.

"She went up in the air from the gates and lost two lengths. But she switched off and relaxed, so I went to plan B and went round them. It went against everything I've been taught as a jockey, but we got an easy half mile and when they came, I knew we still had some gears left. She's just a dead-set star."

A Caulfield and Melbourne Cup star next year?

"The races I'll leave up to Gai, but as a progressive filly that we know stays the trip that should only improve as she matures we hope that everything is on the table really," Wellman said.

Pinot is the daughter of Waterhouse's former star two-year-old triple crown winner Pierro, who sired his first group 1 winner.

Aloisia will also be in the 2018 cups conversation given her rise through the classic ranks, but it still didn't make the Oaks defeat any easier to stomach.

"She never really relaxed," Aloisia's managing owner Terry Henderson said. "She's still only young and we've got a long way to go."

This story Pinot gives Waterhouse sweet taste of success in first Oaks win first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.