Richard Jolly-trained Kushadasi produced a strong staying performance to record his maiden win at Group 1 level by the narrowest of margins in the 2014 South Australian Derby at Morphettville this afternoon.
Scratchy Bottom, the only filly in the field, was ridden on the rails by Dominic Tourneur and she hit the front at the 300 metre mark and looked as though she was going to hold on and give the leading Adelaide hoop a maiden win at Group 1 level.
Kushadasi, Gamblin’ Guru and Best Case loomed as the dangers down the outside of the track and Kushadasi finished the better of the trio and lunged at the line to steal victory from Scratchy Bottom by the narrowest of margins.
Kushadasi started the 2014 South Australian Derby at the generous odds of $9 after he was beaten as a short-priced favourite in both the Listed Port Adelaide Guineas (1800m) at Morphettville on April 12 and the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes (2000m) at the same venue a fortnight later.
Jockey Steve Arnold was criticised for his rides on Kushadasi in both defeats, after setting the Choisir gelding far too difficult a task by settling him towards the tail of the field, and rode the three-year-old closer to the speed in the Group 1 event this afternoon.
Scratchy Bottom lost no admirers with her brave performance, in what was her second race start in as many weeks after finishing third in the Group 1 Australasian Oaks (2000m) last weekend, and justified the decision of trainer Michael Kent to back her up in the Group 1 event.
Gai Waterhouse-trained Order Of The Sun took up the running in the early stages of the race, in an attempt to replicate his all the way win in the Listed VRC St Leger (2800m) on ANZAC Day, and made sure that the South Australian Derby was run at a solid tempo, but tired and was unable to respond when asked for an extra effort in the final stages of the race.
The South Australian Derby win was the first Group 1 victory for Richard Jolly, while Arnold was celebrating his first win at the highest level of racing since he took out the 2010 Mackinnon Stakes with equine superstar So You Think.