LIKE everyone, I’d like to win a Group One. Other than that, I just love getting out there and driving as much as possible….
That was a 2013 statement from a wet-behind-the-ears upstart named Zac Phillips.
Since then, Phillips has developed into one of the Victoria’s leading reinsman, who achieved his dream when partnering Une Belle Allure to capture the Group One Need For Speed Princess Final at Melton last March.
Little did Phillips realise, the win – just days after his 21st birthday – would open a floodgate of Group One triumphs for the season.
In fact, less than an hour later, Phillips captured his second Group One when Red Hot Tooth proved too good in the Lyn McPherson Breed For Speed Final.
“I just can’t believe this…it is a night I will never forget,” Phillips declared. “To win my first Group One is amazing, but to get another on the same night is something special.”
Five months later, Phillips has six Group Ones to his credit thanks to his remarkable bond with Une Belle Allure, which upstaged the boys in yesterday’s Victoria Trotters’ Derby at Maryborough.
Phillips, who shows maturity belying his age, has combined with the Anton Golino-trained daughter of Angus Hall for four of his majors.
“She is a horse I will never forget,” Phillips said. “She has all the qualities of a star…an amazing turn of foot, she’s versatile, can sit or do it tough.”
As for their latest success, Une Belle Allure joined an elite sorority by accounting for her stablemate Dance Craze and President Roydon in the Blue Riband.
By rating 2:03.2 over 2690 metres, the three-year-old became just the sixth filly to complete the Oaks and Derby double.
Lunar Lass was the ground breaker in 1984, with Corrans Image (1990), Galleons Paradise (’97), Solar Fire (’98) and Zesta (2002) following suit.
Une Belle Allure achieved the first half of the equation when she outclassed her rivals in the Oaks at Melton on June 3.
Coming a long way since finishing unceremoniously last upon debut, Phillips’ sensational season also includes his first century, which he notched with the Kari Males-trained Larisas Advice on July 29.
“Kari and Paul Males have been great to me from the start,” Phillips said. “I’ve been very fortunate, my three main stables – Adam Kelly, Anton and the Males – have stuck with me through thick and thin and it makes such a big difference when you get behind horses like this.”
Phillips was also quick to acknowledge the support from Robbie O’Connell and his partner, Darryl Peace.
O’Connell is a long time friend of Phillips’ father, Lucky, having “knocked around Ascot Vale when they were kids.”
“I was born in Melbourne, but spent a lot of years growing up in Queensland,” Phillips said. “Up there I didn’t have anything to do with horses, but once we moved back to Victoria and I started to go to Robbie and Darryl’s with Dad, I just caught the bug.
“As soon as I got my trials licence and starting getting out on the track, I knew there nothing else for me.
“Robbie was insistent I had plenty of trial drives before I went anywhere near the races. His advice proved spot on as it gave me plenty of ground work during those early days.
“I have been very fortunate to have so many good people helping me along and I can’t thank them enough.”
- PAUL COURTS