Willowy delivers Oliver third straight VRC Oaks

Damien Oliver landed his third straight win in the VRC Oaks when Godolphin filly Willowy made a late lunge to claim the Group 1 classic at Flemington.

Willowy followed Oliver’s previous wins on Miami Bound (2019) and Personal last year to give him his seventh overall victory in the race and equal the record of Bobbie Lewis.

Perseverance won out for Oliver as he drove hard on the $3.70 favourite to land Willowy a long-neck winner over Douceur ($21) with Biscayne Bay ($4.20) two lengths away third.

It was Oliver’s first ride on the filly despite Willowy winning the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) at Flemington last Saturday to become the 38th filly to complete the double.

The win was Oliver’s 122nd Australian Group 1 and his third of this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival after winning the Empire Rose Stakes on Colette and the Cantala Stakes on Superstorm.

“That’s my first sit on her but what a dream to ride,” Oliver said.

“She dropped the bridle and went to sleep for me with the slow pace and when I asked her for an effort, she quickened up well, but crept to the second horse.

“I thought it had me done inside the 200 (metre mark). Then I really asked her for the supreme effort over the last 50 metres and I couldn’t have asked the horse to respond better for me.

“I can take some credit, but James and the Godolphin team take the credit. They presented her so well and I couldn’t ask for anymore.”

James Cummings said he and the Godolphin team were grateful for the work Oliver puts into the stable.

He said the jockey was also a good communicator, especially being based in Sydney.

“He’s a marvellous competitor and I think he teams up really well with us because I’m in Sydney and he can give me lots of good advice,” Cummings said.

“When I can give him one idea he says ‘James, I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I think I know my way around Melbourne, don’t worry’, and I’m grateful for it.

“He’s a really good guy to team up with. He presents well, he speaks well and he’s able to explain his thoughts in good style.”

Cummings said Willowy was a classic example of a filly needing time and after winning a Newcastle maiden last month she has followed up with victories at stakes level at her past two outings.

“She just kept improving all the way and enough for us to have a crack at the Wakeful,” Cummings said.

“She’s been able to come down here, get herself together and it takes a filly with a great temperament and a great constitution to do what she’s done in the last week and she’s been able to deliver.”

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