Two Group 1 features and three very different stories came from the track at Morphettville on Saturday.
Adelaide owner Trevor Robertson claimed an eighth major as an owner when Instant Celebrity won the Group 1 TAB Classic (Sangster Stakes), while Geelong trainer Chris Calthorpe upstaged the big players to win the Australasian Oaks with bargain buy Media Award.
Robertson had faith and a big opinion in Instant Celebrity, after racing her mother Celebrity Girl, suggesting a win in the Group 1 fillies and mare feature could surpass a Caulfield Cup (Southern Speed) and Victoria Derby (Rebel Raider) win.
“If she’s as good as I think she is, she’ll win,” Robertson said in the build-up on Friday.
And the filly delivered in spades as she speared through along the inside to race away and defeat Subpoenaed and a fast-finishing Rubisaki. The result further strengthened the success the Phillip Stokes stable is having in Victoria, with son Tommy at the helm of his Adelaide operation.
The Group 1 Goodwood in two weeks’ time remains the focus for the filly, who will try to emulate the feat of Black Caviar as the last horse to win Adelaide’s two Group 1 sprints.
And then there was Media Award’s victory in the Oaks.
The winner was trained by Chris Calthorpe, who spends a large portion of his time moving horses around Australia in his main job in horse transport. The small-time trainer won the three-year-old fillies feature with a horse picked up for just $5000.
“I can't believe it, to be honest,” Calthorpe said on RSN reflecting on Sunday morning.
“The feeling was a cross between winning a grand final and getting married.”
And it was a win felt across Victoria.
A large portion of the filly’s ownership group gave up a game of football back home to make the trip to Adelaide and be trackside.
While their Lavington side lost on Saturday, there was a roar in the changerooms after the game when the filly scored at big odds.
But despite two sensational stories on the track it was one just metres away that grabbed the most attention.
Nigel Latham was in a portable hospital bed at the 200m mark, a dying wish to head trackside one last time.
It didn’t go unnoticed by champion jockey Craig Williams and when he grabbed victory in the last aboard Lady Dunmore, Williams made his way down to the 200m mark and handed Latham his winning goggles.
“I said to my horse if she’d get over the line, we’d make sure we give him the winning goggles and she did her job really well,” Williams said.
“It was his inspiration… we’d like to be grateful to people like Nigel who support the industry and Nigel’s last dying wish was coming here today for a great race day.”
IMAGE: Media Award jockey Luke Nolen greets winning trainer Chris Calthorpe after Saturday’s Group 1 Australasian Oaks at Morphettville.