The 2014 Victoria Derby field has been released and 16 promising three-year-olds are set to contest the Group 1 event at Flemington on Saturday.
Gai Waterhouse has not won the Victoria Derby since she took out the 1995 edition of the race with Nothin’ Leica Dane, but she has an excellent opportunity to win the race for a second time after including Hampton Court in the acceptances.
Hampton Court started his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with an eighth place finish in the Group 3 San Domenico Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on August 16 and he performed fairly in the Early Quaddie Handicap (1400m) and Group 3 Spring Stakes (1600m) before returning to winning form in the Listed Dulcify Quality (1600m) at Royal Randwick on October 4.
The Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) was expected to be a match race between First Seal and Sweynesse, but Hampton Court was able to finish over the top of his rivals and stamp himself as a clear Victoria Derby favourite.
Another horse that is taking winning form into the 2014 Victoria Derby is Mick Price-trained Moonovermanhattan, who worked his way into Derby calculation with a tough on-pace win in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase (2040m) on Saturday.
The victory was the first since Moonovermanhattan took out the Group 3 National Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville on debut and the Manhattan Rain colt gave jockey Craig Newitt the feel that he will be able to run out a strong 2400 metres.
Atmosphere worked home strongly to finish second behind Moonovermanhattan in the Moonee Valley Vase and he has also been included in the 2014 Victoria Derby field.
The Savabeel gelding is yet to record a race win, but he finished second in both the Listed UCI Stakes (1800m) at Flemington on October 4 and the Moonee Valley Vase and is rated a genuine chance to break his maiden in the Victoria Derby.
Chris Waller-trained Preferment is another maiden that has been included in the 2014 Victoria Derby field and he has been well-backed to take out the race, despite failing to record a race win in his six starts to date.
Preferment started his spring preparation with a second place finish behind Deadset in the Testa Rossa At Vinery Handicap (1400m) at Warwick Farm on September 10 and he was second in the More Than Ready Plate (1550m) at Canterbury on September 24 before finishing fourth behind Gouldian in the App Plate (1600m) at Warwick Farm on October 8.
The Zabeel colt was well-backed in the lead-up to the Listed Geelong Classic (2200m) last Wednesday and he stormed home late, but was narrowly denied a maiden race win by Nozomi.
Godolphin colt Gouldian defeated Preferment in his last race start and will have the chance to deliver John O’Shea his maiden Group 1 victory since taking charge of the Godolphin operation, while Nozomi will also have the chance to record a second straight win.
Gerald Ryan-trained Bachman had been set for the Victoria Derby since the start of his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign, but the All American colt was ruled out of the race after he injured his leg in trackwork this morning.
The 2014 Victoria Derby field is rounded out by Prentice, Firehouse Rock, Magicool, Lotion, Light Up Manhattan, Bondeiger, Royal Standing, Cuban Fighter, San Padre and The Might JRod, while Verreaux is the emergency.