The odds for the Godolphin owned staying three year old Astoria have shortened dramatically since the release on Tuesday of the final field for the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday.
The betting at Ladbrokes.com.au has the ‘market mover’ symbol beside Astoria after his price tumbled in from $15 to now be marked as a $9.50 chance alongside of the Matt Cumani trained Greycliffe.
Astoria will be stepping up to the 2500m for the first time, as are all the Victoria Derby runners, and trainer James Cummings expects the well bred Medaglia D’Oro colt to handle the assignment, but admits that he will also have to handle the extra pressure.
“He’s going to have to go to a new level on Saturday, but the fact that he’s got enough class to win over a mile at Group level which he did second up in the Spring Stakes at Newcastle is a big factor in his favour,” Cummings said.
Astoria was a winner four starts back in the Group 3 $150,000 NJC 3yo Spring Stakes (1600m) at Newcastle on September 15 and is coming off a last start 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.
“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 sits at the top of the Victoria Derby market order at Ladbrokes.com.au at $5.50 ahead of Chris Waller’s Tangled at $7, Main Stage and Weather With You at $7.50 and Sully at $8.50.