Horse Racing
Star filly bids to continue fairytale run in WATC Derby

11/04/2024 15:53

Star filly Own The Queen will shoot for her sixth consecutive win when she takes on male rivals in Saturday’s (13 April) G2 WATC Derby (2400m) which will be simulcast into Hong Kong from Perth, Australia.

The Justine-Erkelens trained three-year-old, unbeaten since an arguably unlucky unplaced debut run last December, has garnered plenty of attention from fans and media alike as she’s swept through Western Australia’s fillies’ Classic races – the Listed 1000 Guineas (1800m), Listed Natasha Stakes (2200m) and the G3 WA Oaks (2400m).

While the challenge is greater competing against the colts and geldings, her last-to-first WA Oaks win came over the same course and distance as this weekend’s race and historical precedents certainly don’t rule out a filly claiming the WATC Derby.

No fewer than seven fillies have won the WATC Derby since 2000 and each came via the Oaks, with six of the seven having won the fillies Classic. Own The Queen is by Awesome Rock, who sired last year’s winner Awesome John – who now races in Hong Kong as Awesome Fluke.

Erkelens said the Derby was always on the agenda for Own The Queen. “We aimed at these races from the start and the Derby was confirmed after we saw her run out the trip in the Oaks,” Erkelens said.

If the fairytale winning run comes to an end, then it could well be at the hand of another runner who also has a fair slice of history on his side.

That rival is Grant and Alana Williams trained Buckets Ridge, who’ll be ridden by top jockey William Pike.

Grant Williams has trained nine WATC Derby winners, the past four in partnership with his wife Alana. Pike has 11 WATC Derby wins to his name, including eight of the past ten and eight for the Williams’ team.

Buckets Ridge will be among the best fancied of the colts and geldings after an impressive win, with blinkers first time, in the Listed Melvista Stakes (2200m), which is the traditional path taken by the males.

Four of the past five locally-trained male winners have completed the Melvista Stakes and WATC Derby double with two of those from the Williams’ team whose Saturday hand is also boosted by the filly Flash Of Dallas, who was blocked for a clear run when beaten a half length behind Own The Queen, in the WA Oaks, at just her third start.

Melvista Stakes placegetters A Lot Of Good Men and In Good Order have genuine claims while Neville Parnham-trained Zipaway looks well placed on his return from a sound performance in Victoria.

Zipaway finished well in the G2 Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) at Moonee Valley, when third to Antrim Coast who’d previously run second to Orchestral in the G1 New Zealand Derby (2400m).