The evergreen talents of Damien Oliver were very much again in evidence when the celebrated veteran hoop lifted Cafe Rizu (by Rubick) to victory in the $135,000 VRC Grinders Coffee Roasters Plate (1800m) at Flemington in Melbourne.
A six horse affair for freshly turned 3-year-olds, the 1800-metre contest saw Flinders River (by Fighting Sun) and Frankie Two Angels at the head of the market as well as at the head of the field soon after settling into the contest.
Appearing comfortably in control leading the small field into the straight, Flinders River and Frankie Two Angels quickly came under pressure thereafter, with the ultimate winner Cafe Rizu produced on their outside and subsequent runner-up Reuber (by Dissident) gaining an advantageous run up the rail.
Just as it seemed likely that the inside passage gained by Reuber would win it the race, Cafe Rizu found again under an expertly timed ride by Oliver to gain the lead close to home and score by a very narrow margin.
$3.90 race favourite Flinders River battled on gamely for third after attempting to make all the running with top-weight of 62kg, albeit minus the 3kg claim of apprentice rider Will Price.
Cafe Rizu is trained by Mick Price & Michael Kent Jnr and was one of four last-start winners in the field.
Cafe Rizu and Damien Oliver with Reuber and Jamie Mott inside, picture Racing Photos
Speaking after his second winning ride of the day, Oliver suggested that Cafe Rizu's staying bloodlines made the difference in the finish and that the filly had put the writing on the wall when scoring at her previous outing.
“She certainly threw more to the Zabeel [dam]side than Rubick,” said Oliver.
“I rode her first-up and I thought [said] to Mick sometimes these… early season mile-to-1800m races can be a little bit thin, and after riding her first-up I thought she was going to love a mile or further.
“So Mick found a nice bridging race for her on the synthetic, and it was a more suitable race for her today.
“Any time a two-year-old can beat the older horses in a maiden shows a bit of merit to their form,” Oliver concluded.
Representing the winning training partnership, Michael Kent Jnr didn't hesitate to praise Damien Oliver for his winning performance.
“Lovely ride,” claimed Kent Jnr.
“It worked out as we’d hoped. Good staying effort in testing conditions. The filly is going really well.”
Kent indicated that there was no firm plan for Cafe Rizu and that the stable was just happy to win a “lovely race” at Flemington with the filly.
A $100,000 yearling sale purchase, Cafe Rizu has now won two of her five starts for owners Mr P A Donato, Mr M Manias, Mr M Portia, Mr T Paragalli, Mr D G Buckley, Mr C L Marks & co-trainer Mick Price, amassing $95,968 in prizemoney to date.
Official distances of the race were a Short Neck x 1½L.
Winning time was 1m54.81s (last 600m in 35.58s).
SPs on the race were Cafe Rizu $3.90, Reuber $11.00, and Flinders River $3.80 favourite.
A maternal grand-daughter of Zabeel, Cafe Rizu was produced by the multiple Group-placed 3-time winner Calm Smytzer whose very notable form included third in the Group 1 Ansett Australia Stakes at Rosehill Gardens as a 3-year-old.