Victoria Derby: Flemington 2500m
|Sat 02 Nov 2024
|Set Weights, 3yo
The Victoria Derby is one of the oldest races in Australia, first run in 1855, six years before the first Melbourne Cup. Like many of Victoria’s famous races, Phar Lap won one, in 1929, and he was followed by other famous names such as Tulloch (1957), Tobin Bronze (1965), Dulcify (1978), Mahogany (1993) and Elvestroem (2003).
Not every three-year-old has the constitution to win at 2500m so early in their career, and periodically there are calls for the race to be reduced to 2000m. It is true that some winners fade away, but that is true of many two- and three-year-old Group 1 races regardless of distance, and many still go onto be competitive as older horses.
The three key lead-ups to a Victoria Derby are the Vase at Moonee Valley, run a week earlier over 2040m, the Norman Robinson over 2000m at Caulfield a week before that, and the Spring Champion up in Sydney, also at 2000m.
2023 VICTORIA DERBY PREVIEW
Riff Rocket has certainly put in the best performance this season, of any horse contesting this race. That was in the Super Impose at Flemington two starts back when he put six lengths on the field. A little of his gloss came off in the Norman Robinson last start, when getting rolled at $1.28 after not being able to catch Sunsource in a slowly run race.
Riff Rocket is by American Pharoah, who was well credentialed at 2000m-2400m, but out of a sprinting mare. If it a ferociously run Derby, or even a true test of stamina, he might start feeling the pinch late, and end up showing us that 1600m-2000m is his go in the future.
Apulia has finished behind Riff Rocket twice this prep, by a combined 10 lengths, so has some ground to make up. He, however, is truly bred to stay a trip, being by a Melbourne Cup winner in Fiorente out of a High Chaparral mare. We saw his endurance qualities come to the fore last week in the Vase at Moonee Valley – in a truly run race, he powered away from Verdad and Air Assault.
Apulia is likely the better stayer, but Riff Rocket is the better horse. Which one will win out over 2500m given both are drawn to perfection?
Verdad is also in with a chance, but needs a more slowly run Derby than we might get. He couldn’t go with Apulia after setting that tempo in the Vase, and also isn’t bred as stoutly as that galloper.
Roguery could be the bolter, if one is to pop up at odds, coming out of the provincials but with two wins against older horses at 2000m. He’s fit enough, has some level of ability, and is drawn to do no work whatsoever.
Selections: 1.Apulia 2.Riff Rockett 3.Verdad 4.Roguery
Past Winners Of The Victoria Derby
|Ciaron Maher & David Eustace
|Johnny Get Angry
|Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young
|Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman