It was only a matter of time before Jamie Kah picked up a big race win this autumn as she saluted in the All-Star Mile at Flemington.
Star jockey Jamie Kah missed the Melbourne Cup but went some of the way to making up for it in Saturday’s $5m All-Star Mile at Flemington.
Kah was banned from last year’s Spring Carnival after breaching Covid when attending the now infamous Airbnb party at Mornington last August.
However, punters, owners and trainers quickly forgave last season’s champion Melbourne jockey, allowing Kah to pick up where she left off with a Pakenham Cup win in early December.
Kah has gone close to Group 1 wins without joy in the autumn, running second in the Blue Diamond Stakes and third in last Saturday’s Newmarket Handicap.
But Saturday was Kah’s day as her positive ride from a wide gate proved crucial as she steered the Annabel Neasham-trained Zaaki to victory from the outside barrier.
“It just means so much more after coming back and what we had to go through,” Kah said.
“I missed out on so many big opportunities through spring.”
Kah carried the weight of punters’ expectations after Zaaki started as a clear $2.40 favourite in the All-Star Mile.
The jockey said a sense of relief gave way to elation as she took Zaaki back to scale to the cheers of the crowd on hand at Flemington.
“It was just so special, he’s just a machine,” Kah said.
“There’s a lot of pressure riding a horse like him.
“Not that I’m one that really feels it but I’ve been runner-up in a few of the big ones lately and it’s just so nice to get the job done on a horse like him.
“It gave me goosebumps trotting back in, it was very special.”
Victorian gallopers filled the minor placings with I’m Thunderstruck ($8.50) grabbing second, three lengths ahead of the $201 outsider Streets Of Avalon.
Ambassador might still be celebrating
Nicholas Bouseka’s workmates in Brisbane probably shouldn’t expect him at work on Monday after Saturday’s All-Star Mile.
Bouseka pocketed $250,000 on Saturday as the owner ambassador of the winner Zaaki.
Bouseka, a commercial painter, was one of the 10 owner ambassadors drawn at the conclusion of All-Star Mile voting last month.
The Queenslander had weeks to prepare himself for the race but struggled to accept the fact he had won a quarter of a million dollars in the minutes after Zaaki crossed the line in the $5m event.
“Everybody’s been asking me all day if I’m excited, and now I am because it’s real,” Bouseka said.
“It’s unbelievable. It feels unreal.”
However, Bouseka will have to save a large slice of his windfall for his partner Katrina, who gave him the idea to lodge his vote for Zaaki to enter the competition, which drew more than 140,000 entries.
“My thought process got me as far as topping up my TAB account,” Bouseka said.
“I entered because of my partner Katrina. She’s the one who suggested for me to enter.”
Bouseka is a lifelong racing fan, who once worked as a strapper for former champion trainer Brian Mayfield-Smith back in the 1980s.
Bouseka said Zaaki caught his eye on the day the Annabel Neasham-trained import crushed his rivals in the Group 1 Doomben Cup during last year’s Brisbane Winter Carnival.
“I saw him up at Doomben and ever since then I’ve watched every race,” he said.
He added his confidence grew once he saw Zaaki in the stalls at Flemington, hours before champion jockey Jamie Kah was legged about the six-year-old.
“In the stalls he looked very powerful, very serene, very calm,” Bouseka said.
“Jamie got on him and you could see he just lit up and he showed that in the race.”
Originally published as All-Star Mile: Jamie Kah finally lands major win since return from Airbnb suspension