Vassilator, ridden by Damien Oliver, wins at Flemington (Image: Racing Photos/Natasha Morello)
Damien Oliver made the most of his first opportunity aboard sometimes frustrating Vassilator and by doing so furthered the pain for his great rival Craig Williams at Flemington yesterday.
Vassilator’s win in the Kennedy Handicap late in the day would have registered a winning treble for Williams, who was sensationally stood-down from his Flemington mounts following the COVID-19 outbreak north of Sydney over the past few days.
Williams was to have ridden Zou Dancer (John Allen) in the TAB App Trophy (1400m), Long Arm (Jordan Childs) in the #Lovethehorse Trophy (1600m) and Vassilator but, along with fellow riders Luke Currie and Nash Rawiller, was not permitted to take his bookings due to him being in New South Wales over the past week.
Oliver was happy to take over, despite knowing Vassilator was a moody sort of horse.
"He’s always shown a bit of ability, this horse," he said.
"He’s a bit quirky. It was my first ride on him but I have watched a lot of him and I think getting him relaxed is the main key. He did that today and he was able to finish strongly."
Vassilator charged home late from the rear of the field to beat Polanco by a neck with three quarters of a length to Over Exposure in third place.
Trainer Colin Little said it was Oliver’s first ride for the stable for about four years but he said he was confident the 2018 Caulfield Guineas runner-up could find his best form.
"I don’t think he’s won anywhere else," Little said of the horse’s liking for Flemington.
"We waited for the race. We waited a month. We could have run him early but we thought we’d save him for where he likes."
WATCH: Vassilator wins at Flemington