Sydney three year old Elusive Runner continues to challenge for favouritism for the Group 1 $500,000 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
The John Sargent trained gelding headed to Brisbane after a rousing gallop on the Randwick course proper on Tuesday morning and is now equal second favourite with Vilanova at $5 just behind top pick Pinstripe Lane at $4.80 for the Queensland Derby.
Elusive Runner worked over 1200m out wide on the course proper, running the 1200m 1.24s, clocking his last 600m in 37.6, and covering the final 200m in 12.2s and impressed Randwick track clocker Nic Ashman.
“His work on Tuesday was among the best at Randwick,” Ashman wrote in his Sportman’s column.
“The horses were tracking a wide path so the times are a lot better than they read.”
Elusive Runner’s race record should look better than the one win from five starts after the Encosta De Lago gelding was a certainty beaten at his latest start when runner up to Off The Rails over 2000m at Randwick on May 24.
Regular rider Jason Collett produced a ride he will want to forget quickly after he dropped his near side rein half way down the straight and took an eternity to regather and balance up before Elusive Runner powered to the line to be beaten by only half a length.
Subsequently Collett lost the Queensland Derby ride with connections opted for Tommy Berry who will be returning from Hong Kong for Stradbroke-Derby day.
Elusive Runner will get a chance to clash again with Pinstripe Lane after the Troy Corstens trained three year old beat him home by two lengths at his previous start over 1900m at Rosehill, and meets him 3kgs better at the weights.
Berry is currently on a three month riding contract in Hong Kong but has been able to pick up eight rides on the nine race program at Eagle Farm.
The in-form rider has also been engaged to ride Rebel Dane for trainer Gary Portelli in the Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) as well as teaming up with Gai Waterhouse again to ride Almalad, also a top chance in the Group 1 $500,000 Tatts Group J.J. Atkins (1600m).
Berry also rides Sports Edition in the Listed $100,000 Ambassador Travel Hampden Stakes (1200m), Choice Bro in the Listed $100,000 James Boag’s Premium Strawberry Road Handicap (1600m), Liberty’s Choice in the Listed $125,000 Best Security Daybreak Lover (1600m), Thefifthhole in the Listed $100,000 Evergreen Turf Lightning Handicap (1000m) and Cosmic Endeavour in the Group 2 $200,000 VIRBAC Animal Health Dane Ripper Stakes (1400m).