Top Victoria Derby fancy Astoria put a scare through the Godolphin camp this morning when he escaped from his handler.
The James Cummings reported that the three year old was uninjured in the episode but will still have to undergo a vet’s examination when he arrives at Flemington and be passed fit to take his place in today’s Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m).
“Vet Info 04-11- FlemR7 – No.3 Astoria -Got away from its handler for a short distance this morning, taken no harm. Vet check on arrival,” Racing Victoria Stewards tweeted.
Astoria is a significant market mover for the Victoria Derby and has firmed in from $15 when the final field was released on Tuesday to be on the third line of betting at $8 with Ladbrokes.com.au on race morning.
The Medaglia D’Oro colt will get the run of the race from barrier one with Damian Lane in the saddle after coming off a late finishing third behind Victoria Derby rivals Weather With You and Ocean’s Fourteen in the Listed $120,000 Geelong Classic (2200m) at Geelong on October 25.
Cummings has no doubt that Astoria will run out the 2500m of the Victoria Derby at his first attempt at the distance.
“What we are confident about is that Astoria has had a terrific grounding to be running well at the 2,500m, not only off a 2,200m run last start, but he’s had plenty of racing this preparation,” Cummings said.
“He’s a classy colt and he’s back now to set weights after giving weight away in the Geelong Derby trial.
“It will be exciting to see Astoria out to the Derby distance for the first time. It’s a great test of character and fortitude for a young horse.”
Cummings will be striving to win back to back Victoria Derbies after Sydney based jockey Glyn Schofield steed Prized Icon to victory last year carrying the Gooree Stud’s red and black colours.
This year Cummings will be hoping that Astoria, with Damian Lane in saddle, will carry the famous Godolphin royal blue colours to victory.
“He looks great, he’s strong over the concluding stages in his gallops and I was pleased with his first run in the Melbourne direction,” Cummings said.
The David Payne trained Spring Champion Stakes winner Ace High and the Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young trained Main Stage share favouritism for the Victoria Derby at $7 in a wide open betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Chris Waller’s three year old Tangled is next in the betting at $7.50 just ahead of Astoria and Weather With You at $8.