Victorian stayer Ali Vital is on track for a Group 1 assignment in the Queensland Derby (2400m) on Saturday week after a commanding victory at Doomben today.
The three-year-old comfortably disposed of his rivals by three lengths in the Ascend Sales Handicap (2200m) which was his second straight win.
More important than the victory was the $16,000 winner’s cheque which will improve his position in the Queensland Derby order of entry.
The Michael Moroney-trained gelding was one of 33 horses included in first acceptances for the Derby this morning and occupied 25th spot in the ballot prior to today’s race. Today’s win takes his career prize pool to $33,575 which is likely to be enough to gain a place in the 18-horse Derby field.
Ali Vital’s two career wins have come on Slow tracks and Moroney will be hoping the wet weather in Queensland continues in the lead-up to the Derby.
Moroney has three gallopers remaining in Derby contention, with Grand Prix Stakes runner-up Rhythm To Spare set to start among the favourites. Moroney also accepted with filly The Last Shower who will run in the Queensland Oaks on Saturday.
Heading Derby acceptances are New Zealand stayer Survived and Chris Waller’s in-form gelding Hawkspur.
Survived ($3.30) remains a slight favourite ahead of Hawkspur ($3.80) despite the Sydney galloper defeating him in the Rough Habit Plate. Hawkspur further confirmed his Derby credentials on Saturday when scoring a dominant win in the Grand Prix Stakes.
Other key Derby contenders include Grand Prix third Honorius and Murray Baker-trained gelding Usainity.