Another Oaks triumph for Ritchie

When  Keep The Peace won the 2010 NZ Oaks, it seemed it couldn’t have got better for trainer Shaune Ritchie (pictured).

But at Trentham today the Oaks proved an even better result for the Cambridge trainer as he saddled up his first Group One quinella when Artistic defeated the favourite Zurella in the Wellfield Stud-sponsored 2400-metre fillies feature.

It was not only a quinella for Ritchie, but also for Cambridge-based The Oaks Stud, owner-breeder of the pair of very smart fillies.

Ritchie was confident both Artistic and Zurella would perform well in the NZ Oaks, but he believed the latter to be his best prospect, a summation also reached by punters.

“I’m happy to have the second-stringer win,” said Ritchie. “And to get the quinella is a huge thrill. It’s a great result, too, for the Oaks Stud. Both Dick Karreman (The Oaks Stud owner) and Rick Williams (Oaks Stud general manager) have been wonderful supporters and to get a result like this for them if fantactic.”

Artistic has already provided Ritchie with a very special win this season, when taking the Just Juice Bonecrusher Stakes at Ellerslie last September. Having been the regular strapper of Bonecrusher, Ritchie has always had a burning desire to win the Listed race.

Since that stakes win each of Artistic subsequent seven runs have all been in Group and Listed races and she had been a model of consistency, though having had to settle for one further Listed win and minor placings until today.

She was fourth in the Group I NZB 1000 Guineas, fourth in the Group II Eight Carat Classic and third in the Tiger Prawn Desert Gold Stakes.

“She had been giving them a big start over 1600 metres andeverything she did suggested she would get the 2400,” said Ritchie. “She’s a game filly, a little sweetheart.”

Artistic settled just off the pace and after hitting the lead in the home straight she dug deep to hold on to beat her stablemate Zurella by a nose, while Quintessential ran on for third, two and three-quarter
lengths away.

Artistic was ridden by Michael Coleman, who was thrilled to finally win the Oaks.

“When I signed on as an apprentice with Jim Gibbs he had Maurita and Zepherin, two top fillies, and Greg Childs was riding for him and Ithink he won about four Oaks,” said Coleman. “It’s a race I’ve always wanted towin and now I’ve done it.”

Coleman was thrilled to do it on Artistic for The Oaks Studand he paid tribute to the filly.

“We got a lovely run and she relaxed well, but 100 metres out I could see Zurella coming and I thought she’d get us, but my filly has run the 2400 metres out strongly,” he said. “It was a top performance.”