Queensland Derby hopeful Hippopus will be tested at weight for age level when he lines up in the Group 1 $500,000 Kirks Doomben Cup (2000m) at Doomben on Saturday.
Hippopus’ main Winter Carnival target is the Group 1 $500,000 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on June 8 but Gai Waterhouse is not frightened to take on the older horses in Saturday’s Doomben Cup.
Even though Hippopus looks out of his class at weight for age, but stable foreman Mark Newham thinks differently.
“Gai wouldn’t be sending him if she didn’t think he was a realistic chance,” Newnham said.
“Ideally he is better suited over further, as you saw in the St Leger in Melbourne, but he has got enough speed in his legs to be very competitive on Saturday.
“Your Song certainly wasn’t among the best couple of three-year-olds, he wasn’t Pierro and he wasn’t All Too Hard, but he got up to Brisbane and absolutely spanked them.
“It shows it is a very good three-year-old crop this season.”
Hippopus has had one try at Group 1 level when he performed reasonably finishing fifth, albeit over eight lengths from It’s A Dundeel in the Group 1 $1.5m David Jones Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on April 13.
Waterhouse then sent the three year old to Melbourne where he proved too strong in winning the Listed $150,000 VRC St Leger (2800m) at Flemington on April 25.
“Gai has had in mind the Derby for a while and thought this race was the best way to get him there,” Newham said.
“He’s been sharp enough to win over 1900m around Canterbury, and you’ve got to have a horse that can jump and travel to do that.”
Premiership jockey Chris Munce will again team up with Waterhouse after having won some of his major races on the top Randwick trainer’s horses, including a Golden Slipper and a Caulfield Cup.
“That’s a plus. Muncey has got a terrific record for the stable over a number of years,” Newnham said.
“He knows how Gai likes her horses ridden so he is an obvious choice.”
Hippopus has drawn barrier two in the twelve horse field and Munce will no doubt have the High Chaparral colt in the first half of the field going out of the straight the first time.
The Peter Moody trained Lights Of Heaven and Chris Waller’s Foreteller are set to clash again after finishing first and second in the Group 2 $358,000 Wimmers Soft Drinks A. D. Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast on May 4 and both have drawn favourably at five and four respectively.
Moody will be hoping that last season’s top weight for age performer Manighar can regain his best form after four unplaced runs this campaign, including a last seventh to Reliable Man in the Group 1 $500,000 Santos Coffee Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 27.
The leading Melbourne trainer is also hoping to go one better than last year’s Doomben Cup when Lights Of Heaven and Manighar finished second and third to the Anthony Freedman trained Mawingo.