Old North is set to back-up in the 2016 Australian Derby next weekend after he recorded an impressive victory in the Tulloch Stakes at Rosehill Gardens this afternoon.
Old North was only narrowly denied when he made his debut at stakes level in the Group 2 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) last start, but there was not stopping him today and he put away the Tulloch Stakes field very quickly when jockey James McDonald got him off the rail and asked him for an extra effort.
McDonald was impressed with the performance of Old North and he believes that the Tulloch Stakes winner still has plenty of improvement in front of him, but he is unsure whether the son of Lonhro will be able to run out a strong 2400 metres in the Australian Derby.
“He is a beautiful animal,” McDonald said.
“He has a lot of scope for improvement, he is coming through the grades in quick fashion and I think the plan is to head on to the Derby.
“Whether he runs a true mile and a half is yet to be seen, but he is going the right way.
“He switched off beautifully today, but he is obviously out of Lonhro and they are not renowned for staying ability.”
Trainer John O’Shea admits that Lonhro’s do not usually run out a strong 2400 metres, but he feels that there are other areas of Old North’s pedigree that suggest he will get the trip.
O’Shea said that he will need to speak to Godolphin supremo Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum before he makes a decision on the future of Old North, but at this stage the three-year-old is likely to run in the Australian Derby.
“Those decisions aren’t solely mine, but my recommendation would be that he would,” O’Shea said after the race.
“It has been a race that has been on our radar since he came back into work this time.
“Obviously the progeny of Lonhro haven’t been adept at 2000 metres or beyond, but this fellow is different.
“He gave every indication there that he would be strong at the trip and we will just see what James says and what he thinks is the right approach.
“I will make a recommendation to the boss after that.
“We always thought very highly of him from the first day he went to the races and we are just hoping that he repays the faith we have in him.”
Torgersen returned to a semblance of his best form to finish a closing second, while Multifacets produced an improved performance for third.