Matthew Smith and Damien Oliver combined to win the Myer Classic with Hurtle Myrtle.
Warwick Farm trainer Matthew Smith celebrated his maiden Group 1 success when Damien Oliver turned back the clock to claim the $500,000 Myer Classic (1600m) with Hurtle Myrtle at Flemington on Saturday.
The Hall of Fame hoop completed a Derby Day Group 1 double when the under-rated mare followed up Oliver’s earlier elite-level success aboard Glass Harmonium in the Longines Mackinnon Stakes.
The 39-year-old, a three-time winner of the AAMI Victoria Derby, was thrilled to be back in the Melbourne Cup Carnival spotlight.
“It’s a great week to be riding winners,” Oliver said. “It’s been a bit lean for me, the Flemington Carnival, in recent times so it’s nice to get amongst the big races again.”
At the other end of the spectrum, Smith was thrilled to bring up his maiden Group 1 on one of the biggest days of the year.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “This is what you aim for as a trainer, on this day, to win a Group 1. It’s such a thrill.”
Hurtle Myrtle didn’t have everything go her way in the Myer, but she was just too good. The daughter of Dane Shadow was wide and near the rear straightening for home, but surged into the race and settled down to fight it out with last year’s winner Sacred Choice.
Hurtle Myrtle gained the upper hand in the final 100m, edging away to score by 1.3 lengths from the Joe Pride-trained Sacred Choice with Dysphonia, from Peter Snowden’s Darley yard, completing a Warwick Farm-trained trifecta.
Superstar Sydney mare More Joyous endured a torturous run from her wide barrier, trapped three wide for the first half of the race, which told in the straight. The $2.60 favourite finished seventh, 6.5 lengths from the winner.
Oliver was confident from a long way out and was thrilled to maintain his unbeaten record on Hurtle Myrtle.
“We got over nicely and got a bit of cover and she really towed me into the race,” Oliver said. “She was going to be a big chance a long way out.
“I had a ride on her in the Sydney autumn and we won a nice race up there, so it’s only my second ride today and we’re two for two. All credit to Matt, both times I’ve ridden her she’s been in magnificent order.”
Oliver’s day got even better the following race when he partnered consistent mare Sister Madly to a thrilling win in the $300,000 Group 2 Seppelt Salinger Stakes.