The first day of the 2017 four day Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington kicks off on Saturday with Victoria Derby Day, arguably the best race day on the Australian Racing Calendar.

Main Stage, above, is one of the top fancies for the 2017 Victoria Derby at Flemington. Photo by Ultimate Racing Photos.

Main Stage, above, is one of the top fancies for the 2017 Victoria Derby at Flemington. Photo by Ultimate Racing Photos.

The entire nine race program is filled with quality racing with every race on the card at Group level which includes four Group 1 events.

The Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) for the three year olds is the main attraction and below we will go through the form of all the runners in the capacity sixteen horse field that also spills over with one emergency.

Ace High

The David Payne trained Ace High has been installed the favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au and heads to the Victoria Derby with solid winning form from his last two starts. The front running Ace High proved too strong for his opponents in winning the Group 3 $200,000 James Boag’s Premium Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at Rosehill on September 23 and then Tye Angland adopted the same tactics before holding off the strong finish of Victoria Derby rival Tangled to win the Group 1 $500,000 Moet & Chandon Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on October 7. Will prove hard to get past again.


Tangled, from the powerful Chris Waller stable, went down narrowly to Ace High in the Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick two starts back and Waller has decide to pout the winkers on the Snitzel colt following his second to Cliff’s Edge in the Group 3 $350,000 Ladbrokes Classic (2000m) at Caulfield on October 21. Tangled has drawn awkwardly but has the in-form Blake Shinn in the saddle again.


Astoria will carry the famous Godolphin royal blue colours and a win would give his trainer James Cummings back to back victories in the Victoria Derby after Prized Icon took the major prize last year. Astoria was beaten just under four lengths when fifth to Ace High in the Spring Champion Stakes and then made up ground from the back last start when 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. Will be running on at the end.


Eshtiraak has missed a place at his last two starts which included a last start fifth in the Ladbrokes Classic at Caulfield but has the advantage of being prepared by the in-form Lindsay Park Team who are looking for another Melbourne Spring Carnival Group 1 win after their bolter Boom Time took out the Group 1 $3.15m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield last Saturday.

Main Stage

Main Stage is one of four stablemates from the Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young accepted for the Victoria Derby and put himself into contention with a win in the Listed $120,000 UCI Stakes (1800m) at Flemington on October 7, The Reliable Man three year old then rounded off his Victoria Derby preparation with a third in the Ladbrokes Classic. Michael Walker will have to be on top of his game after Main Stage drew wide at barrier fourteen.


Main Stage’s stablemate Sully has worked his way up through the grades in a short time and showed that he has the class to run in the Victory Darby with a last start third to Ace High in the Spring Champion Stakes. Sully has also drawn off the track at barrier fifteen but has the jockey of the moment, Winx’s partner Hugh Bowman, to help overcome the early setback.

Weather With You

Weather With You stamped himself as one of the main chances for the Victoria Derby when he broke his maiden status with a win in the Geelong Classic (2200m) on October 25. Mark Zahra has retained the ride on the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman trained Kiwi gelding who will get the run of the race from barrier two.


The Matt Laurie trained Aberro is listed as one of the outsiders of the field but can’t be completely forgotten after a last start fourth in the Ladbrokes Classic (2000m) at Caulfield. The winkers replace the blinkers and Ben Melham has plenty of work to did in the run to the first turn from barrier thirteen.


Trainer Robbie Laing knows how to prepare a Victoria Derby winner after his three year old Polanski took the major prize in 2013 and he is sure to have given Pissaro a first class preparation. Pissaro was a winner three starts back over 1600m in a BenchMark 70 Handicap at Morphettville and rounded off his Victoria Derby prep with a fourth to Kennedy Oaks favourite Aloisia in the Group 2 $200,000 Drummond Gold Vase (2040m) at The Valley on October 28.

Justice Faith

Lindsay Park’s second runner in the Victoria Derby, Justice Faith, is also one of the outsiders of the field but did beat more home than beat him when sixth to Weather With You in the Geelong Classic (2200m). The Hinchinbrook colt is another drawn out in no man’s land and Craig Williams will be looking everywhere to try and slot in before the first corner.

Ocean’s Fourteen

Ocean’s Fourteen lacks the experience of a lot of the other three year olds but has a win and two placings from only three starts, his latest a second in the Geelong Classic (2200m). Luke Nolen takes the ride again and will give the Ocean Park colt a nice run from barrier seven.


A last start four lengths win in a 2200m BenchMark 64 Handicap at Seymour on October 22 has seen bookmakers at Ladbrokes.com.au price Greycliffe under the $10 mark. His sire Tavistock is the producer of proven stayers so there is no doubt that he will run out a strong 2500m. The Matt Cumani trained Greycliffe has shown versatility in the past and jockey Jordan Childs will be able to find s nice position from barrier nine.

Johnny Vinko

Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young’s third Victoria Derby runner, Johnny Vinko, is still a maiden after four starts and looked promising two starts back when third to his stablemate Main Stage in the UCI Stakes (1800m) but never threatened last start when eleventh of sixteen in the Geelong Classic (2200m).

Nothing Too Hard

The Paul Perry trained Nothing Too Hard is another who is yet to break his maiden status and is marked as one of the outsiders of the field following his last start seventh in the Geelong Classic (2200m).


Rockarral broke through for his maiden win two starts back over 2100m at Gawler but was then always well back in the field when tenth in the Geelong Classic (2200m). His High Chaparral blood is a definite factor to help him run out the 2500m.

Wolfe Tone

Wolfe Tone is still a maiden from three starts and has been installed as one of the outsiders following his last start sixth in the Drummond Gold Vase (2040m) at The Valley.

Beachwood (Emergency)

Beachwood is the first emergency and will be the fourth Victoria Derby runner from the Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young stable if he gains a start. The Ocean Park gelding is still a maiden after five race starts and has been priced alongside of the other $101 chances.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.


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