May and Memphis combine for Oaks win
By Jonny Turner
Driver Ricky May got the biggest thrill of his comeback to race driving when Stylish Memphis took out the Group 3 Southland Oaks Final at Ascot Park yesterday.
Stylish Memphis burst out of the trail to power to victory in the 2700m feature and set up a big day for trainer Mark Jones, who went on to take out the group 3 Southern Supremacy Stakes with Burnham Boy.
Stylish Memphis’ victory completed her epic reunion with May, who drove the filly the night before his well-publicised collapse during the Central Otago Cup in January.
Then, the pacer ran the second of two group 1 placings behind Amazing Dream in the Sires Stakes Championship Final.
Though Thursday’s event was not a group 1, to return to the sulky and drive the now four-year-old to win an Oaks was a huge thrill for May.
“That is a huge thrill, it was great to win that race with her.”
“I won the Banks Peninsula Cup with One Apollo and now to win this is a pretty big thrill.”
“It is great to be back to where I was.”
“I feel like I have been driving alright since I came back, but I haven’t been driving that many good horses.”
“But the nice ones I have been driving have been going really good.”
May showed his class with one of his typically patient drives.
When taken on early by eventual third-placegetters, Watch Me Now and Kirstin Barclay, he made the crucial decision to hand the lead away in what most would consider a bold move when driving a $1.80 favourite.
Stylish Memphis then showed how potent she is when getting such a soft trip after May angled her off the inner before the home turn.
“She proved when she went to Australia how good she was.”
“She is looking a million dollars and she is probably only going to get better with a wee bit more racing.”
“Mark has done a great job with her.”
Stylish Memphis smashed the 2700m mobile all-comers track record at Ascot Park in her victory.
Her 3.16.3 time took a massive 0.8sec off the previous mark, set in the same race in 2018 by Bonnie Joan.
Need You Now took second behind Stylish Memphis, fighting on bravely after having to sit parked.
Earlier on Diamonds Day, Dashing Major took out the group 3 Diamond Creek Farms after also enjoying a perfect run in the trail.
The half-brother to former star mare Venus Serena nosed out hometown favourite Ragazzo Mach in the most thrilling of finishes to win the $30,000 feature in just his third start for trainer Robert Dunn.
And the John Dunn driven three-year-old had to be sensationally quick to do it, coming off the back of the favourite Ragazzo Mach on the $30,000 feature’s sizzling 26.8sec last 400m.
“It was a good effort to get there when they were running the last quarter [400m] that quick,” John Dunn said.
Dashing Major will now he clash with star three-year-olds Krug, It’s All About Faith and American Dealer in the Sires Stakes Final on New Zealand Cup Day.