First run in 1855, the G1 Victoria Derby (2500m) is one of the most grueling tests for three-year-olds run in Australia and this Saturday (30 October) at Flemington Racecourse – on a seven-race card which will be simulcast in Hong Kong – the contest headlines a cracking afternoon of racing which features three more G1 events of staggering quality.
Forgot You and Gunstock, the last start winners of the two most significant lead-up races, are expected to dominate the market.
Forgot You, trained by Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young, scored his third win from his past four starts when successful in the G2 Moonee Valley Vase (2040m) last Saturday – beating stablemate Commander Harry, who also lines up in the Derby.
Gunstock represents the training partnership of Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr. and he staked his Derby claim with a decisive win in the G3 Caulfield Classic (2000m) at Caulfield on 16 October. Price and Kent also have Moonee Valley Vase third-placegetter, Jungle Magnate.
No fewer than 25 of the past 30 Victoria Derby winners have come through either the Vase or Caulfield Classic, with 22 of the 25 having finished in the first three in either race including nine horses who completed the double.
The market swung slightly in favour of Forgot You after Tuesday’s (26 October) barrier draw which saw Gunstock allocated gate 19 (there will be 16 starters, excluding the reserve runners) which presents a challenge to his rider, last year’s Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Jye McNeil. Eleven horses have won the Derby from draw 10 or wider since 1991.
Daniel Moor takes the ride on Forgot You, who drew gate eight. Moor, who returned from Singapore last year, has ridden three Group 1 winners this season – a tally bettered only by another repatriate Brett Prebble with five. Prebble rides Alegron in the Derby.
Gunstock’s co-trainer Kent Jnr. describes the Tavistock colt as the ‘ideal Derby horse’ who continues to improve. “I think he has come on fitness-wise since the Caulfield win and he relaxes so well in his races, the distance shouldn’t be an issue. The trip should also suit Jungle Magnate who ran very well last week,” he said.
The stable also has the exciting Extreme Warrior, a three-year-old colt by Extreme Choice who won the G3 Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield by three and three-quarter lengths, contesting the G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (Ascot Vale Stakes) (1200m).
Simulcast racing action continues next Tuesday (2 November) with a further seven races from Flemington including the G1 Melbourne Cup Handicap (3200m).