Former South African trainer David Payne is poised to post a second classic win in Australia after today’s barrier draw for the A$1.5 million Victoria Derby (Group 1 – 2500m) to be run at Flemington on Saturday.
Payne’s charge Ace High, arguably the best credentialled runner on form, is likely to press for favouritism after drawing barrier three and could well be part of a red letter day for one time Hong Kong based jockey Tye Angland.
Angland stays aboard the High Chaparral colt after guiding him to victory in the Gloaming (Group 3 – 1800m) and Spring Champion Stakes (Group 1 – 2000m) at his past two runs and the now Sydney based jockey will also partner Trapeze Artist, on whom he won the Goldenrose (Group 1 – 1400m), in the Coolmore Stud Stakes (Group 1 – 1200m).
Those two feature three-year-old races highlight Saturday’s simulcast programme which also features two other Group 1 races – the Kennedy Mile and the Myer Classic (1600m), for mares only.
Payne, who trained Criterion when he won the 2014 Australian Derby, believes that barrier three is perfect given his plan to have Ace High ridden more conservatively than in his past two all the way wins.
“It won’t be our intention to lead at the Derby trip. I’d be very happy to see him take a sit and let one or two others lead us,” said Payne who was second in the race, in 2010, with Praecido who was raced in similar ownership to Ace High.
Ace High steps to the 2500 metres trip for the first time on Saturday but Payne doubts the rise in trip is any issue. “He should stay all day on his breeding,” Payne said.
Ace High is by Epsom Derby winner High Chaparral, the sire of 2009 Victoria Derby winner Monaco Consul and two Australian Derby winners Shoot Out (2010) and It’s A Dundeel (2013); both Monaco Consul and It’s A Dundeel won the Spring Champion Stakes. High Chaparral also produced dual hemisphere champion So You Think, the winner of five Group One races in each hemisphere.
Angland is also enthusiastic about the colt’s prospects. “He gives everything he’s got every time he steps out and he’s got a bit of class about him,” he said.
There were mixed fortunes, at the draw, for the other well fancied runners in the Derby. James Cummings, who won the race last year with Prized Icon from gate four, was pleased to draw barrier one with Astoria while five time Victoria and Australian Derby winning trainer Murray Baker will run Weather With You from gate two.
Cummings said: “He’s been coming along nicely. His last run was sound and he looks to have trained on well with a nice piece of work this morning. Astoria hasn’t quite got the Group 1 credentials that Prized Icon had but he has progressed well and he’s had plenty of racing and plenty of experience as most Derby winners seem to need.”
Less pleased was former New Zealander and now Victorian based trainer Trent Busuttin. The best fancied of his four runners, prepared in partnership with Natalie Young, are Main Stage and Sully who drew gates 14 and 15 respectively. Both horses, however, are generally ridden back and three Derby winners have come from double figure draws in the past ten years.
Final fields for the remaining races at Saturday’s meeting are declared on Wednesday. The track is likely to be good with minimal rain forecast for the rest of the week in Melbourne.
The racecourse has a circumference of 2312 metres and a home straight of 450 metres (width 30 metres) with races from 1000 to 1200 metres run down a straight course. Races are run in an anti-clockwise or left-handed direction.