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Who does recent history suggest will win the South Australian Derby?

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Roar Rookie
5th May, 2021
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History can be a strong indicator towards feature race winners. Of course, there are also those that write their own story.

This is an assessment of the six elements most common to the winners from the past ten years of South Australian Derbies.

1. Top-four finish at the start prior
Nine out of ten finished fourth or better in their lead-up run. Understandably a solid performance holds them in good stead for the staying test, which would be a strong indicator for any race.

2. Eight have won at some point during their preparation
Winning form is good form – it is no surprise that the clear majority of Derby victors have shown the ability to get the job done along the way. Escado (2013) and Shadows In The Sun (2011) were the only two that bucked this trend.

3. Racing deep into a prep
Eight out of the past ten winners have been at their fifth start of the preparation, or deeper. To be rock-hard fit has proven to be a significant advantage, as the three-year-olds get out to this distance often for the first time. Delicacy (2015) and Leicester (2018) were the deepest into their preparations, at start number eight of their campaign when they ran. Russian Camelot (2020) is one of two who defied this factor, winning at his third start. Fair to say he was one out of the bag – there are not too many South Australian Derby winners who have gone on to perform strongly at the top level like he did, at least in recent times.

4. Staying closer to home
Seven had their entire preparation in either Victoria and/or South Australia. Perhaps too much long travel can be taxing on these younger horses, hence those that have been closer to the home of the Derby have often performed best on the day.

5. All were in their second, third or fourth preparations
Perhaps it comes around too soon for those trying to win it in their first, or perhaps it is that spending time in the paddock can help with a horse’s mental and physical maturity.

6. Barriers draws have been relatively evenly spread
Winners have ranged from barrier 1 (twice) to barrier 11 (twice), with four other numbers represented in between. No winner has come from outside barrier 11, however. The majority of fields were made up of 16 horses. As is often the case, drawing wide (in this case 12 or further out) has been a clear negative indicator. Personal is one of those unlucky runners this year; she has drawn the outside stall for the 2500 m assignment.

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Solely based on these historical factors from the past ten years, Royal Mile gets the nod. He is currently paying $10 with Playup and is the only horse that ticks all six pieces of the above criteria.

The Lee Creek-trained gelding has come through the Chairman’s Stakes, which has been the most common producer of SA derby winners with four from the last ten years.

It could be argued that an apprentice jockey does not read well as far as history is concerned, however it is a hard stat to judge accurately given the low percentage of apprentice riders given the opportunity in the race over the years. Jacob Opperman has of course been doing a fantastic job on this galloper – he has ridden him every start, including his five wins to date.

Will history repeat itself? Or is the current form of some others too hard to go past?

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