The $1.5m ATC Australian Derby (2400 metres) run at Royal Randwick is the most prestigious three-year old race in Australia. Join us for live race updates and a blog of the 2012 Derby in the lead-up to the 3:35pm jump time.
Along with the Cox Plate, the Australian Derby has the greatest honour roll of any race in Australia.
It is reserved for the greats – Gloaming (1918), Heroic (1924), Phar Lap (1929), Peter Pan (1932), Tulloch (1957), Skyline (1958), Dulcify (1979), Kingston Town (1980), Bonecrusher (1986), Beau Zam (1988), Mohogany (1994) and Octagonal (1996) are all winners of this race.
The Derby is probably most famous for being the race that kick-started the career of Phar Lap. There wasn’t much fanfare about Phar Lap heading into the spring of 1929 but consecutive wins in the Rosehill Guineas and Australian Derby signalled the beginning of a legendary career.
Prior to 1979 the Australian Derby was run before Flemington’s VRC Derby each spring. Now, the Australian Derby is one of the last Derbies to be run each season in Australia.
Similar to American racing, each Australian state runs a Derby and the general consensus is the Australian Derby (much like the Kentucky Derby in the States) is the greatest of the six.
Did you know…? There are actually two Derbies being run today. In Perth (where they have a habit of pronouncing “Derby” phonetically), the running of the WATC Derby is set to begin at 4:15pm local time.
Sangster won the VRC Derby (2500m) in the spring but he hasn’t brought that same form into this preparation. Throughout the autumn racing in Melbourne and Sydney this year, the Melbourne spring three-year old form has been exposed time and time again. The likes of Helmet, Manawanui and Sangster haven’t returned in the same vein.
He finished 16th in the Rosehill Guineas. Prior to that his form was fair. We know he can run the distance but I prefer others.
2. Laser Hawk
Laser Hawk will start close to favourite for the Derby. He is the Group I Rosehill Guineas winner.
There are big wraps on this horse, who is a half-brother to multiple Group-I winner Desert War. He has only been beaten once and that was when placing in the Group I Randwick Guineas four weeks back. In the mould of a typical Gai Waterhouse stayer, he likes to race on the speed and is very hard to get past.
He was given a great run in the Rosehill Guineas but the 11 gate will make it a little bit tougher for in-form jockey Nash Rawiller.
Everyone (trainer, jockey, and media) say this bloke is certain to run a strong 2400 metres but the form I’ve done on his breeding doesn’t inspire confidence. Of all the other children of mother High Heels, Desert War (who shares the same sire as triple Melbourne Cup-winner Makybe Diva) is the only one to have won at 2000 metres (and no further).
The sire of Laser Hawk is Artie Schiller – a champion miler in the US.
For a horse that is certain to run 2400 metres without having even seen it, I’m sceptical.
Huge chance nonetheless.
3. Strike The Stars
This horse has a bigger fan base than Collingwood. You won’t have to go far to find someone prepared to tell you why he was “really good” or “really unlucky” in any one of his last five or six starts.
His career-best run is a three-length second to Mosheen in the Australian Guineas in Melbourne last month.
It was Mosheen’s biggest win this preparation. Since then many have got closer than that to Mosheen so that result can be a bit flattering.
He was seventh in the Randwick Guineas and fifth in the Rosehill Guineas.
He’s got a bit of a distance query.
Not for me but as always he’ll have supporters.
4. Darci Be Good
He finished second in October’s Spring Champion behind Doctor Doom but like much of the early three-year form, it looks inferior to what he meets here.
His run when sixth in the Randwick Guineas was very good. Then he was poor in the Rosehill Guineas and fair in the secondary Tulloch.
Not sure. He’s not bred to win a Derby. Sire Darci Brahma was best at 1400 metres to a mile and dam You Can’t Say That was an average miler in New Zealand.
This guy is an interesting runner. Although I don’t like him that much today, you can make a case for him.
He finished third in last Spring’s VRC Derby so there is no distance problem.
He returned first up in good order before finishing a sixth in the Australian Guineas at 1600. Next, he came from the back to run fourth in a second-tier Melbourne lead-up for this before running on okay in the Rosehill Guineas at 2000 when finishing 11th behind Laser Hawk.
Only if you’re brave but he’s not the worst 60/1 pop ever to be taken on trust.
6. Ocean Park
Liked this bloke but he’s been scratched this morning
7. Rekindled Alliance
This guy had been building to a win. He’s a dry-tracker so his early runs this prep on the wet had me getting a bit excited.
Surely last week was going to be his day. He finally got to 2000 metres, struck a dry track and landed in a winnable race.
When he took the lead at the 200, I thought he was home. He got run down by Polish Knight who ended up winning with authority.
He had to sustain a bit of a long run last time but I can’t tip him today. He had his chance last week.
I have a feeling 2000 metres is his maximum distance too.
8. Polish Knight
I really like this bloke and he’s good odds. We’ll start with the negatives.
The first negative is this is his first prep. You don’t often see horses win a Derby in their first prep because usually it entails rising in distance and class from about 1200 to 2400 and from maiden to Group-I level in five or six runs without any other residual fitness or experience to draw upon.
This horse has an air of timing about him. He’s the last horse to appear in the Derby picture but he could well win the race.
Any rain would get me confident. He won his maiden at Ballarat (two days before the Australian Guineas) by a whopping six lengths on a heavy track.
Then he finished second at Sale coming from last. Is there a track in Australia that undoes backmarkers better than Sale? He followed that up with a luckless ninth in a third-tier race at Caulfield.
His latest start was in last week’s Tulloch at Rosehill. His win was dominant, nearing awesome. It was classy. It was an outstanding Derby trial.
He came from last in fast-run race. He only got going at the 200 (indicating the step-up from 2000 to 2400 will suit), rounded up Rekindled Alliance in a stride and powered away to a big win.
The Hawkes team like to keep a lid on things usually but they’ve been keen to tell anyone that asks about the quality of this horse.
I like him a lot.
This horse is by Lonhro and out of Roedean! In lay terms it means he isn’t bred to win a Derby but he races like 2400 metres is going to suit.
Outside of those who fought out the Rosehill Guineas finish, I thought this guy was easily the best run in that race. His last 200 was outstanding. He passed about 10 horses in that period.
He gets to 2400 and will find himself a mile off the leaders but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him run a place. He’s bit of a poser so don’t get too excited if he looms up at the 200.
He’ll go well.
10. Satirical Boy
The second horse engaged for the in-form Waterhouse stable. He came into last week’s Tulloch in good form having won his previous two before coming from ninth to finish 3.5 lengths from winner Polish Knight when sixth.
He’s up in grade a mile. I don’t like him but Waterhouse is getting broomsticks to fire at the moment.
Ethiopia is easily the most interesting runner in the race. I wonder if owners named him Ethiopia with the expectation that he would be a great stayer because, as we know, Ethiopia is the best producer of long-distance runners in the world. And the horse Ethiopia is the biggest stayer going around.
When ability was being given out to foals, there was a stuff-up. Instead of getting a bit of stamina and a bit of speed, he got two doses of stamina and they forgot about the speed.
Ethiopia is a maiden but as the horse would happily explain, because all those races were under 2000 metres, he was only getting warm until very late in the piece.
All three of his runs have been good. His last start was the Alistair Clark at Moonee Valley. The form out of that race is atrocious for a Group II race – everyone who’s run since has failed but he was clearly the best run in the race. He came from last and was the only horse to challenge from back. His effort to run second was outstanding.
He hasn’t run in the month since. He missed a start in the Rosehill Guineas because of his low rating and owners decided against running him in BMW against older horses last week.
Usually running a stayer fresh is a bad idea because you are encouraging their speed to come to the fore (often at the expense of stamina). But this bloke doesn’t have much speed so I think he’ll go well fresh.
Not sure about the Melbourne form but inclined to think this bloke can win.
12. On Every Level
This guy lacks class. His only win was in a Newcastle maiden. He was well beaten last week in the Tulloch. 2400 may well suit but I’m not sure that he’s up to Group I level.
Top six chance.
13. Silent Achiever
She was backed in favouritism with some bookies yesterday. If she isn’t the punter’s elect she’ll be the second favourite. She comes over from New Zealand and has her ninth run today. She has never had a spell. This is a massive negative.
The other negative is that she’s a filly taking on the boys. But Shamrocker, a filly, won this race last year and Silent Achiever beat the boys in a comprehensive rout in the New Zealand Derby in early March. Still, she must beat the opposite sex to win this.
She’s had one run in Australia and finished a close third to Laser Hawk in the Rosehill Guineas. In my opinion, Ocean Park was better than her that day. But, I thought Silent Achiever and Laser Hawk were the second-best runs in the race.
She’s drawn wide and will get back but the distance is no problem. I wonder if she’s had enough this prep. If she hasn’t she’ll figure.
I’m not massively keen on her but I think she’s a big chance.
It’s an interesting Derby with the form coming through two races predominately. I’m sticking with the Tulloch form which I concede is fraught with danger.
1. Polish Knight
2. Laser Hawk
4. Silent Achiever