Dazzling Dixie fills Quinton with pride
"THIS is one of my proudest moments on a racetrack.''
They were trainer Ron Quinton's first words after Dixie Blossoms burst through to win the Group 1 $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday - and he meant it.
To put this comment into context, Quinton is a member of Australian racing's Hall of Fame after a celebrated career in the saddle, where he was an eight-time Sydney premier jockey, rode champions Kingston Town, Emancipation, Analie and Sir Dapper, and won four Golden Slippers, a Cox Plate and Doncaster Handicap.
Quinton has also made his mark as a trainer, particularly in the Coolmore Classic.
Dixie Blossoms gave the trainer his fourth win in the feature race after Ofcourseican (2012), Peeping (2016) and Daysee Doom (2018).
The late Max Lees holds the Coolmore Classic training record of five wins - but no one has won this race as often as Quinton. He also rode the winner of this race twice on Miss Personality (1974) and Emancipation (1983).
It was clear that Dixie Blossoms's win meant a lot to the trainer.
"It's just unbelievable because she's been knocking on the door to win a Group 1 race for a few years now,'' Quinton said.
"She's a doll. One of the kindest horses you could deal with, a wonderful mare. You could let her out on the street and she would find her way home.
"I've just been dying for Dixie to win that Group 1.''
It was widely expected the Coolmore Classic was going to be one of the most competitive majors of the season, but Dixie Blossoms was in a race of her own as she streaked away for a brilliant win.
Jockey Christian Reith gave Dixie Blossoms ($21) a ride Quinton would have been proud of in his prime, as the mare sprinted away to win by two-and-a-half lengths.
Trainer Kris Lees went close to emulating his father Max's Coolmore success when he prepared minor placegetters El Dorado Dreaming ($21) and Princess Posh ($41).
But it was difficult to take anything away from rising seven-year-old Dixie Blossoms, who is in her final racing preparation before being retired to stud.
Dixie Blossoms had never won in 10 previous Rosehill starts and became Quinton's only runner after the trainer withdrew defending champ Daysee Doom due to her outside barrier and heavy track.
"She has run some good races here, she ran a great race here last year in the Coolmore, so I wasn't worried about that,'' Quinton said.
"The heavy track maybe levelled them up and she does handle it. She has won on a heavy before so I wasn't concerned.
"I just told Christian to ride her for luck from the two barrier. Ride her for luck and hope for the bloody best. It was the Dixie of old.''
Reith, who rode his first Group 1 winner since Le Romain in the 2016 Randwick Guineas, said it was an honour to win the big race for Quinton.
"Ron is a legend in racing and I'm just grateful he gave me this opportunity,'' Reith said.
"Dixie Blossoms is such a beautiful mare and just to be part of her career has been an absolute pleasure.
"She deserves a Group 1 for her consistency and she just gave me a great feel today. Honestly, I was never going to get beaten.
"I just had to pick the right holes and things unfolded for me and we were able to get there. She's got age in her legs but she runs like a three-year-old."