Stephen Baster, Adrian Bott and Gai Waterhouse

Stephen Baster, Adrian Bott and Gai Waterhouse with Pinot's connections (Image: Racing Photos)

Oaks: Gai, a blaze of yellow

Until the third day, one of the carnival's perennials, its other dash of colour - other than the roses - had been on stage but she hadn't owned it.

Gai Waterhouse had won three races on Caulfield Guineas Day and trained a double on Emirates Melbourne Cup Day but she had been peripheral to the countdowns; to the Derby, to the Cup.

As a famous player, but no longer the superpower she had been for so long, Waterhouse had been having a very good carnival.

Waterhouse, who now trains in partnership with Adrian Bott, had been winning 'minor' carnival races with a predominantly Melbourne-based squad that had looked anything-but carnival class late winter; 'a group of maidens'.

Like the roses, Waterhouse bloomed on Kennedy Oaks day.

It was the first warm and sunny day of the week-long meeting. Waterhouse wore bright yellow, kept cosy by an ankle-length fur.

Her filly Pinot caused a minor upset in the Kennedy Oaks, drawing on fitness Waterhouse - and now Bott too - trains into her horses like no other; probably other than her late-father, Tommy Smith.

Pinot had missed the start, then rallied to sit second, before charging away. Favourite Aloisia had worked early but then enjoyed a good run before wilting as Pinot dug in.

As Pinot and Waterhouse's great yet largely unheralded ally Steve Baster trotted back to scale, the media assembled in the mounting yard and waited for Waterhouse's famously flamboyant entrance; like the day she won the Emirates Melbourne Cup with Fiorente in 2013, waving like the royal she is from the balcony before sweeping into the mounting yard.

But Waterhouse was nowhere.

Bott, instead, accepted the media's questions and delivered a solid straight bat. There was a dash of Waterhouse effervescence, with Bott declaring Pinot a 'superstar', then a debrief of the race, saying 'not everything went to plan' but 'she was too good'.

Waterhouse then popped up in the mounting yard. She was surrounded by whomever Waterhouse is surrounded by these days and let out a Can-Can kick for the TV cameras.

She slipped off the fur and gave the media, who'd quickly dumped Bott, a few minutes.

The legendary trainer and new young training partner have only been together since the start of last season but they work to a couple's rhythm.

Bott tapped Waterhouse on the shoulder midway through her interview, asking if she wanted to take to the winner's podium, and she insisted he go, a statement of sorts that Bott was not some passenger but a fair dinkum equal partner.

"Adrian is so sweet. He said 'It's your Oaks, you go out' (to meet the media). I said 'No you go out', he said 'You go out', I said 'You go out'," she said with a giggle.

It was her first Oaks in a gazillion attempts, saying it was 'so exciting' but it was Waterhouse's wonderful eccentricity that shone through, as always.

She described Pinot's pre-race demeanour: "Heavens! You know I watched her walk around. Her neck was down, saying 'Hey man, I've been here 1000 times before'."

She was a little more deliberate when praising Baster, whose alliance with Waterhouse for many years hasn't exactly been Tommy Smith and George Moore but Baster has been a key ally in Melbourne, the Sydney stable's outpost.

Pinot's win was his seventh from his past 10 rides for her.

"Steve, he's such a blessing. We've had an association on and off for 20 years. He knows the way we train, he knows the way we want them ridden," she said, adding Baster was 'up at three o'clock in the morning' to ride Waterhouse's Flemington team, even a single horse having a light canter.

Like all wonderful things, you wonder for how much longer Waterhouse will be in bloom, on centre stage, Can Can-kicking, making reporters giggle.

Bott's appointment suggests an eventual transition.

But Waterhouse, like her father, like his contemporaries Bart Cummings and Colin Hayes and all the others who were 'lifers', is motivated by the next big carnival, the next big horse.

Baster told Waterhouse some months back that Pinot reminded him of Tuesday Joy, a former champion Waterhouse mare. "That's good enough for me," she said, mentioning something about next year's Melbourne Cup before dashing away, a blur of yellow.