Aristia triumphs in VRC Oaks

Nov 08, 2018

Aristia has capped an amazing preparation with a Group 1 win for Ellerton Zahra Racing, First Light Racing and jockey Damian Lane in the Kennedy Oaks (2500m) at Flemington.

The Lonhro filly has continued to improve since starting her spring campaign in a maiden at Sandown in August until she achieved the ultimate prize in racing by becoming a Group 1 winner in the VRC Oaks.

Aristia showed trainers Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra are not just trainers of sprinters after she joined Response (twice) and Crystal Lily as Group 1 winners for the stable.

“We’re not known as long distance (stayers) trainers but we’ve proven that we can do it if we get the right horses,” Zahra said.

Aristia only broke her maiden on the Saturday before the Kennedy Oaks with her win in the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes.

Ellerton said the fact Aristia was a daughter of Lonhro, who had previously not had a Group 1 winner beyond 1600m, was a slight concern.

However, the way the three-year-old had improved after the Wakeful Stakes gave the stable plenty of confidence in a strong showing in the $1 million event.

“She’s probably broken the mould with Lonhro a little bit,” Ellerton said.

“That was my only concern that she is by Lonhro. I thought she looked better on the Sunday and Monday morning after Saturday and she’s a very tough filly.”

Former Ellerton Zahra Racing apprentice Damian Lane gave Aristia the perfect ride in the Kennedy Oaks.

Aristia rolled forward early before Lane made sure she got the cover she needed at in the back straight. Aristia travelled perfectly midrace before outsprinting her rivals in the straight to score a determined win by three-quarters of a length.

Lane said the race had occupied his mind in the lead-up to the Kennedy Oaks but was thrilled to pull off a Group 1 win for Ellerton and Zahra as well as great stable supporters First Light Racing.

“I couldn’t help but play the race over and over in my head a thousand times from Saturday to today,” Lane said.

“I kept stopping trying to do it, I overthink things. I couldn’t do it so in the end; it’s all I could think about last night and today. It’s just a massive thrill for it to come off.

“There’s so many pieces to the puzzle to get me here today. I’m just so happy for Matty and Simon, and the First Light Racing crew. They’re a big part of the team. Very happy.”

Aristia’s brilliant VRC Oaks win landed her huge band of thrilled owners with a $600,000 winner’s cheque, taking her stakes tally to more than $876,000.

Congratulations to the team at First Light Racing and a huge thanks to everybody involved with Aristia’s wonderful Kennedy Oaks win.