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Awesome Avdulla and Lasqueti Spirit in Group 1 VRC Oaks shock

Lasqueti Spirit
Lasqueti Spirit has broken her maiden in spectacular fashion in the VRC Oaks at Flemington.

A daring ride by Brenton Avdulla on a maiden filly has produced an unlikely Group One win for the jockey and Sydney trainer Lee Curtis in the VRC Oaks.

Cox Plate placegetter Yankee Rose was the raging $1.95 favourite for Tuesday’s Classic over the gruelling 2500m but no-one told Avdulla who took $101 shot Lasqueti Spirit to the front out of the gates.

He strung the field out and Lasqueti Spirit showed no signs of stopping with Yankee Rose around 25 to 30 lengths adrift down the back straight.

Avdulla and Curtis had discussed tactics and figured the filly’s best chance was to get going and hope she could keep going for as long as possible.

Curtis, whose only other Group One win came with Mistegic in the 2002 Galaxy, was overcome with emotion after he watched Lasqueti Spirit maintain her pace to hold off Harlow Gold ($7) by 3-3/4 lengths.

Eleonora ($9) ran an even race for third, another 1-1/2 lengths away with Yankee Rose languishing beating just one runner home.

“Brenton and I discussed it and it was the plan all along to go to the front,” Curtis said.

“She doesn’t have a turn of foot and is a one-batter.

“I can’t believe it. I owe so much to Frank and Christine (Cook) who came into the lease for her.

“It’s all been about Yankee Rose all week and we were 100-1.

“I knew this filly had something when she ran third in the Fernhill to Prized Icon in the autumn.”

Prized Icon won Saturday’s Victoria Derby but even then neither Curtis nor Avdulla dared to dream.

Frank and Christine Cook are among Australia’s biggest racehorse owners and have had shares in many Group One winners including Foreteller and Preferment, trained by Curtis’ Rosehill neighbour Chris Waller.

For Avdulla, it was a case of being in his own space throughout the race.

“At the 1000 (metres) I was still in front and I thought ‘I’m going to run top eight’,” Avdulla said.

“At the 400 I thought top five. At the 200 I took a look at the big screen and saw how far in front I was and I couldn’t believe it.”

Avdulla had time to celebrate before the line and even bowed to crowd as he went past the winning post.

It cost him $1000 but that meant little.

“I won the Group One Lightning here on Snitzerland but to win one here during Cup week is special,” he said.

Yankee Rose’s rider Blake Shinn was downcast, saying there was nothing in the tank when he asked the favourite for an effort.

“She did no work until the 1000 metres and I was in a position behind the second horse,” Shinn said.

“But when I asked her to respond, there was just no response today.

“She can usually sustain an 800 to 1000-metre gallop but it just wasn’t there.”

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