Jockey Blake Shinn steers Arabian Gold to victory over favourite Catkins at Rosehill Gardens

SEPTEMBER 27, 2014 5:57PM

THE grey mare won the Golden Pendant — but not the one most expected.

It was Arabian Gold and not hot favourite Catkins which won the Group 3 $300,000 race at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday with the result producing a rare feature race quinella from two grey mares.

Trainer David Vandyke and jockey Blake Shinn embraced after the race as an emotional owner-breeder Nick Moraitis, with the aid of a walking stick, proudly entered the mounting yard.

“This win means a lot,’’ said Moraitis of Might And Power fame. “It’s extra special when you breed them yourself then watch them develop as racehorses.

“I’m very happy for my trainer and jockey — they are both dedicated, hard-workers and they have had a lot of faith in this mare.’’

Jockey Blake Shinn returns victorious aboard Arabian Gold. Picture Simon Bullard.
Jockey Blake Shinn returns victorious aboard Arabian Gold. Picture Simon Bullard.

Arabian Gold had never previously won first-up from a spell and she was up against an in-form and fitter mare in Catkins but Vandyke sensed she could spring an upset.

“She has been everywhere, run in all the carnivals, from Sydney to Melbourne to Brisbane, and she’s keeps going,’’ Vandyke said.

“In Brisbane, she suffered a hoof problem after The Oaks and she only had five weeks out in the paddock but she has come back 20kgs heavier.

“Her trial was outstanding and we felt if the race worked out the right way today, she could win.
“They don’t always make the transition from three to four so it is a bit of relief to see her produce that performance. The world is her oyster now.’’

Arabian Gold ($9) was brilliantly ridden by Blake Shinn as he stalked Catkins ($1.50 favourite) during the race then sprinted through inside her rival to win by a half length with the very consistent My Sabeel ($18) three-quarters of a length away third.

“Blake had her in a perfect spot behind them. I told him to be kind to her, to make sure we got through this run in good order, and he did that,’ Vandyke added.

“It’s onwards and upwards into the spring carnival now. Today was a stepping stone to see how she had come back on a path towards the Cox Plate.

“If that was any indication I think she is well on track and we will go to the Toorak Handicap next.”

Arabian Gold railed up inside hot pot Catkins. Picture Simon Bullard.
Arabian Gold railed up inside hot pot Catkins. Picture Simon Bullard.

Shinn, who turned 27 on Friday, said Arabian Gold definitely has the ability to win at Group 1 level.

“She is an outstanding mare and David and his team have done a great job to get her back,’’ Shinn said.

“I can’t tell you how special this is. She has been such a great horse not just to myself but also to my best mate Peter Robl and Nick Moraitis.

“David Vandyke has done an unbelievable job in preparing her and bringing her back from a hard three-year-old campaign last autumn.”

“It is really satisfying and rewarding for the whole team to get her back in the spring to produce a run like that first up is just amazing.”

Arabian Gold was the first horse Moraitis gave Vandyke to trainer and the two men have since struck a real rapport.

She scored her ninth win from 19 starts and took her prizemoney to over $900,000 with the promise of more to come.

“It has been a fantastic journey for me to be involved with Nick and for her to win this feature race today, I can’t put it into words,’’ Vandyke added.

Hugh Bowman, rider of Catkins, gave the mare every possible chance and could offer no excuses after her shock loss.

“She ran well but just wasn’t as good as the winner, what can I say,’’ Bowman added.