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Victoria Derby preview

Been a barren few months for the blog but it's spring time in Melbourne, no better time to get back into it. Also three of my previous contributors in Harry Allwood, Mark Boylan, and Ronan Groome have been nominated for Best Emerging Talent by the Horseracing Writers Press Association (HWPA), which is rather prestigious! Nice to have been a helping hand, albeit a tiny one, along their journey. If writing is something you'd like to try your hand at, particularly previewing a feature preview, please drop me a line!

Onto Derby Day, the greatest day on turf anywhere in the world. My preview of the eponymous race below...


AAMI Victoria Derby
G1, 3yo, 2500m
AUD 2,000,000
Flemington 1545 local, 0445 GMT

1.Shadow Hero - the Sydney horse with superior form on the board. Won the Gloaming and the Spring Champion, the latter ahead of Castelvecchio who beat all beat the star Japanese horse Lys Gracieux in the Cox Plate last week. Has just gotten better the further he has gone, closing sectionals have been very strong, can just park midfield with cover and run home past a load of very tired horses.

2.Soul Patch - impressed last weekend at Moonee Valley winning the G2 Vase,  after a decent run in the Guineas, running on late from the back of the field. You could make a case for him using Battenburg as the measuring stick (started $2.80 fav in the Vase, beaten 7.8L, whereas he was only beaten 1.1L in the Spring Champion behind Shadow Hero, starting $41) but I think that flatters the Vase form, a lot. Drawn two, risks getting pocketed inside although his last two runs coming from the tail of the field have been due to drawing the outside - settled behind the leader in his Flemington win in late September. Chance but I rate the Sydney form higher.

3.Thought of That - in the news this week for the wrong reasons with the owner booting off Linda Meech after riding him to victory in his last two starts. Kicked away on the turn for an impressive win in the Caulfield Classic a fortnight ago, and may have to try the same strategy here, having drawn the inside rail. Might have been flattered by strong headwind down the side that day, which made it hard to come from behind, but at the same time, could have won by further. Sire knew something about winning from the front in Group 1s and will relish the trip. Best of the locals.

4.Warning - second behind Thought of That a fortnight ago, when struggled to make ground into a stiff headwind against a canny ride. Started equal fav with the winner and did beat the rest of the field clearly. Impressed at Flemington the start before, his only win so far. Damien Oliver takes over and is drawn to track the favourite. Chance.

5.Serious Liaison - SCR

6.Huntly Castle - won twice on soft tracks at the end of last season but regularly finishing behind a few of these of late. Can't see him being a factor.

7.Independent Road - settled further forward than normal last week and finished better than any of the on-pace runners, just a shame the placegetters all came from the tail. Blinkers come off to make him settle better but doubt he has the class of the market leaders.

8.Long Jack - nice win in the Geelong Classic last week when had to wait for a run on the turn then burst through to assert his dominance. Not usually the strongest formline coming into the Derby but was strong to the line and does have the imperial Monsun bloodline on the dam side. Loses the services of Frosty Lane who is on fire this spring, but Craig Williams wasn't far behind him last weekend. Drawn wide again, seems adaptable enough to go forward or back.

9.Craftmanship - won the Listed Hill Stakes at Morphettville before overracing and underperforming last weekend in the Moonee Valley Vase. Jamie Kah takes over and may be able to settle the Savabeel colt better, but the top of the market would need to flop for him to be in the mix.

10.Southern Moon - second last week in the Geelong Classic and also in the Derby Trial here in late September. In between he had his only career victory at Donald, coincidentally on the same day as Thought of That. Different races, different distances, but comes up substantially slower on the sectionals. Despite that, he's a tough horse and hasn't been beaten further than half a length in four starts this campaign. By Puissance de Lune, the trip won't be an issue.

11.Relucent - yet to win from six starts but has been in the frame in his last five runs. Third at Geelong behind Long Jack and Southern Moon, and just behind Battenburg in Sydney (formline through Shadow Hero and Soul Patch) earlier in the campaign. Waller + Bowman and drawn to get the perfect sit - do not underestimate. Goes in exotics at the very least.

12.He Is - one win over 1200m and no placings out of six racetrack visits. Sprinting blood on the dam side, can't see him running out the 2500m. Blinkers first time would need to work miracles.

13.Translator - decent run to finish fourth at Geelong after making a long mid-race surge, but there are easier races out there for him. Maybe throw him in First 4s for the final spot.

14.Navarre - the owners will enjoy their day at Flemington on one of the premier racing days of the year worldwide, but this horse has no bloody hope.

15.Sign Seal Deliver - three starts to date, and getting better with each run (fifth at Geelong last time) but dreaming far too high here. Would not surprise if he was in the mix for minor placings.

16.Lucky Edward - not a hope in hell. Only horse in the field to have run 2400 (maiden against older horses) and was well beaten. Three gear changes, unless one of them is a jet engine, it won't make an ounce of difference. Unplaced from four starts, and about to be five.

Assuming a good track and no external factors such as pronounced leader bias or strong winds, then I can't see them beating the Sydney horse. Shadow Hero has won a G3 and G1 this campaign yet this has been his main target. Should be 2.50, can get 3.20.

Shadow Hero
Southern Moon
Thought of That


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The Lexus Melbourne Cup
Group 1, Handicap, 3200m
AUD 7,750,000
Flemington 1500 local, 0400 GMT
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