Out of form Hvasstan has a chance to redeem his reputation in the Group 1 $500,000 Centrebet South Australian Derby (2500m) at Morphettville on Saturday after two lacklustre performances over the Sydney Autumn Carnival.
Trainer Peter Gelagotis arrived in Sydney full of confidence that Hvasstan would shine aganist the other three year olds but has been forced to go to Morphettville hoping the Fastnet Rock colt can find some of his form that saw him win Group races at the last two Melbourne Carnivals.
Gelagotis is searching for reasons why Hvasstan failed to fire at his last two runs and apart from racing the Sydney way of going, the Moe trainer has come up empty handed.
“The excuse we are looking at is that he didn’t handle the Sydney way of going,” Gelagotis said.
“Whether that is the right answer only God knows. The only way we can find out is to run.”
Hvasstan showed in the Spring that he was in the top group of three year olds with a win in the Group 3 $150,000 Starlight Children’s Foundation Norman Robinson Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield before finishing fourth to Fiveandahalfstar in the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington.
Then during the Melbourne Autumn Carnival Hvasstan scored an impressive win in the Group 2 $220,000 Sportingbet Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) at Moonee Valley before heading to Sydney.
The dominance of Kiwi three year old It’s A Dundeel in both the Group 1 $500,000 M. J. Bale Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill and Group 1 $1.5m David Jones Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick was outstanding with Gelagotis saying he would have been happy to run second.
But Hvasstan was beaten thirteen lengths at Rosehill and nine lengths at Randwick which left the trainer looking for answers.
“I don’t think he had put in a bad run in his career ever. At the worst he should have been running second to that horse so there has to be a logical answer as to why he went so poorly,” Gelagotis said.
“We believe everything is okay, he looks well and he eats well. He’s an easy going, blase sort of a character and you can misinterpret him.”
Gelagotis is hoping a win at Morphettville can put some joy back into the camp after it was revealed that Hvasstan had returned a positive swab to Ibuprofen after winning the Alister Clark and is expected to be disqualified when stewards resume their inquiry.
Hvasstan in on the second line of betting in the Derby at $4.20, just behind last start Flemington winner Shoreham at $4.00.
Local hope Hioctdane is also close up in the market at $4.40 following his four and quarter lengths win in the Group 3 $115,000 Chairman’s Veolia Stakes (2000m) at Morphettville last Saturday.
The David Hayes trained Gerontius is the only other runner under double figures at $8.50 and comes to Adelaide after finishing fourth, seven and three quarter lengths behind It’s A Dundeel in the Australian Derby.