Oct 20, 2017

It is always satisfying when long term plans come off - such as when Mick Kent suggested to the owners of Quilate a few months ago that the Gr.3 Ladies Day Vase at Caulfield would be a good aim for her.

Quilate was spelling at the time and a plan was laid out - she was to resume over 1200m at Mornington with Beau Mertens to ride, step up to 1500m in a weaker race second up with Ethan Brown to take the claim... runs that would see her at her peak for her black type assignment.

Despite everything going well - Quilate flashing home late when third first up, winning second up - she was sent out a big odds at Caulfield, punters wary of the step up in class that she faced.

They had forgotten however that she was beaten less than two lengths when having her first crack at Group level in the Frances Tressady Stakes at Flemington in early March - that race not run to suit.

Always considered stakes class by the stable, Quilate may have been the outsider of the Ladies Day Vase field but there was an air of confidence from those close to her - her work on Saturday morning described by Ethan Brown as "perfect."

And so it was a nervous wait for race five, connections happy to see the previous two races won by swoopers from similar barriers.

A little on her toes in the mounting yard, sweating a little in the spring sun, Quilate jumped well as she usually does, eased back by Beau who gave her a lovely run in transit.

At the 900m leader Hell Or Highwater was travelling well but she really let go with 600m to go... the pace well and truly on.

Which saw Quilate, for the first time in her career, under pressure - niggled at with 600m to go with Beau admitting that "I was a bit worried straightening up, she just came off the bridle a it earlier than I expected her to."

"The pace was brutal," Mick Kent said - "which is why she was off the bit so early, that has never happened to her before!"

Hooking out at the 300m, Quilate spotted the leaders three or four lengths and at the 100m the race looked to be a battle between the more favoured runners Flying Jess and Prompt Response.

But then...

"And here's Quilate flashing at them," yelled racecaller Matthew Hill - "Quilate over the top comes at Prompt Response, Flying Jess... Quilate!"

A horse who has always shown a great turn of foot at home, Quilate has not always been in races run to suit and with a severe aversion to the whip she is not the easiest horse to ride!

But Beau knows exactly what makes Quilate tick and his patient ride (his first stakes winner for his master) was just right... "I know her very well," he said.

"I've won on her before and I've got a good feel of her now... and I knew how well she was going from riding her in track work."

"After her win last start with Ethan aboard I thought she went really nicely and I thought she put them away quite well today. She put her ears back and really fought out the race."

Defeating much higher rated horses off a benchmark rating of 76 (which rose to 96 off this win), Quilate recorded her fifth success from 18 starts - her prize money tally now a healthy $211,315.

"That was great," said a very happy Mick Kent who has long held Quilate in esteem.

"We thought she had a bit more to give after her last prep and she improved in the spell, she really thickened up and finally developed and got mature."

"She ran really well first up and it was a soft win second up."

"I came here pretty confident that she was going to run a place and she was going do to that half way down the straight... and then she just wore them down."

"She has got better as she has got older," Kent continued. "She shows a lot at home, we have always thought that she had this ability."

Debuting with a Geelong fourth as a two-year-old, Quilate has been patiently handled in the three years since. It has not all been smooth sailing with a Caulfield win in mid-April taken off her on protest.

But that is just a distant memory for connections now who not only roared as she crossed the line but again when correct weight was declared!

"It is a great result for them, for a home-bred," Kent said, "they will be excited for a while."

Quite the understatement with her owners led by breeder Kristen Manning emotional to say the least!

It has always been Manning's dream to breed a stakes winner and Quilate's other owners have their own stories - including Rob Fynmore who was persuaded to buy a share by his wife Margaret who always had the feeling that this filly would be good... sadly they had to say goodbye to that lovely lady a few years ago.

Her best friend Cheryl Milton was gifted a share by Margaret and can be seen in the replay with her arms in the air... along with Calindy Conway who bought her parents a share for their ruby wedding anniversary... Ruby being Quilate's nickname!

Nearby was Calindy's partner and fellow owner Grant Courtney who was taking photos for racenet, admitting that the excitement got the bit the better of them... "I may have stuffed up that photo!" he laughed.

Howard Clement and Lynette Humble watched from the grandstand with Manning along with her dad Max and her's and Vin's five-year-old son Ashley who later declared that "this is the best day ever" as he proudly carted the trophy around the course.

Vin Lowe purchased Quilate's dam Miss Peligrosa with the last $2000 left from his redundancy package after 35 years at Moonee Valley... wanting to spend that money on something significant! He could not have foreseen just the impact handing that cheque over would have... and he thanks Melissa Boswell-Happ for finding the mare.

Karin McNab lost her beloved sister Ingrid just a few weeks ago... in fact she was at a memorial service on Wednesday and Quilate helped bring smiles to many faces on a sad day.

"I had twenty of Ingrid's main carers watching with me," Karin said... "they each put $1 each-way - and some had never had a bet before! We all watched with bated breath on my small phone. Our roar was bigger than the one at Caulfield though I heard a big one on the replay!"

Meanwhile Amanda Nemaric was thinking of her late father - the St Kilda Football Club Hall Of Fame member Bruce Phillips who passed away on the same day three years ago... "I always think of him at times like this, he loved his racing."

The Singapore based Steve Dainton had never before seen his mare, one he had bought into on the back of Mick Kent's successful stint in Singapore. As luck would have it he was in Melbourne visiting family and was able to be at Caulfield with his wife and kids.

"I just returned to Singapore," he said a couple of days later, "and am still in a pleasant state of shock. It was the first time I could make it to the track to watch our beautiful girl race and I was blessed to be part of it."

Steve also had his father with him... "he was the one who first got me interested in horse racing when I was growing up in Albury, to have him with me as well as my family... to be on track for the first time as an owner with such a great group of people and win... it was a fairy tale result."

Unfortunately Jim Bhujoharry - who has been a regular when Quilate races - was with his grandson at a grandparents kindergarten day but was cheering from there whilst Ben and Rob Gordon along with their friends Andrew and Maree Pittaway were celebrating from Perth.

"She is the best Christmas present I've ever bought Maree!" Andrew said.

Judy and Robert Conway were watching from Sydney, Mick O'Boyle from the United States, Peter Martin from Queensland whilst Scott McIntyre, Robert Symes and Jeremy Synot could not be on track but were also cheering on.

Behind every horse with a big group of winners are lots of stories and we are delighted that Quilate has given so many so much joy.