Darren Weir is set to have a four-pronged attack in his quest for three successive Group 1 UBET South Australian Derby victories on Saturday.
Weir will saddle up race favourite and Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes winner Leicester, Listed Tasmanian Derby winner Civil Disobedience, Listed Hill Smith Stakes winner Savaheat and Chairman’s third-placegetter Amerock.
Leicester has been the Derby favourite since his impressive victory in the Chairman’s Stakes and will once again have the services of leading Victorian hoop, Damian Lane. While Weir is shooting for three straight SA Derby’s, jockey John Allen is also doing the same. The two combined to win the last two editions of the race with Howard Be Thy Name and Volatile Mix. Allen will ride Civil Disobedience who hasn’t quite run up to his efforts since February’s Tasmanian Derby win. Amerock took the challenge to Leicester in the straight in the Chairman’s but couldn’t stick on with the winner, finishing third. He will be ridden by Oaks Day hero Harry Coffey as he looks for his second Group 1 victory in two weeks. Weir’s other runner Savaheat will be ridden by stable regular Dean Yendall who partnered the colt to his last win back in March.
Second favourite in the race is the Ellerton & Zahra trained High ‘N’ Dry who produced a huge run from the tail of the field to finish second to Leicester in the Chairman’s. The gelding has drawn wide again and is likely to settle at the back once again but has run on well in all of his races this campaign. Box on Collins finished fourth in that race and was solid as the first four put a decent gap on the rest of the field, however Jamie Kah does get off the horse in favour for Lindsay Park’s Rezealient.
The class runner of the field looks to be Chris Waller’s Tangled. The Group 2 winner has placed three times over 2000m at Group 1 level in his career and he comes off a second placing in the Group 3 Packer Plate at Randwick. Experienced jockey Michael Walker continues his association with the horse, being on board for his last three starts, which have included two Group 1 placings and that second placing in the Packer Plate.
Five of the last ten winners of the Derby have won their last start and along with Leicester, there are only three other last start winners in the field. The Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott trained Runaway was a strong last start winner, leading all the way in the Listed Victorian St Ledger. Stephen Baster who has ridden him to his two wins on the trot sticks with him. Ellerton & Zahra’s other runner Into Rio contested Listed races in Spring last year and bounced back from his poor showing in the Listed Port Adelaide Guineas to beat Johnny Vinko by a length in his last start at Pakenham where he stuck on well for the win. The other last start winner is the locally trained Tropical Lightning. The Travis Doudle trained gelding is first emergency for the race and ran fourth in the Listed Hill Smith Stakes over 1800m last year. He was too good for his rivals in a BM64 at Strathalbyn last start and the in-form Todd Pannell will ride him in the Derby.
One of the interesting runners in the field is the New Zealand stayer, Sherrif. He won the Group 2 Manawatu Classic at Awapuni over 2000m in March and then ran fifth in the Group 2 Championship at Pukekohe on heavy going. Trainer Roger James last had a runner in South Australia 21 years ago when he won the Adelaide Cup with Cronus. Could his next runner also be a winner? Kiwi hoop Leith Innes flies over for the ride.
Other classy runners include Western Australian Money Maher, a three time Listed winner who ran fourth in the Group 2 WA Derby in April. The colt was five lengths off the winner, Action and jockey Jarrad Noske will come from the west to take the ride on Saturday. The Busuttin & Young trained Main Stage won last year’s Listed UCI Stakes and ran fifth in the Group 1 Victorian Derby and fifth in the Group 1 ATC Derby last start. Champion jockey Damien Oliver is set to ride the gelding for the first time on Saturday.
Leicester - $4.50
High ‘N’ Dry - $5
Tangled - $7
Sherrif - $10
Main Stage - $11
Runaway - $12
Civil Disobedience - $15
Others - $17+