Victorian colt Hvasstan will get his chance at Group 1 glory on Saturday when he travels to Adelaide to contest the South Australian Derby (2500m).
The Peter Gelagotis-trained galloper was a Group 2 winner in the Alister Clark Stakes at Moonee Valley in March before finishing unplaced in both the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas and the Australian Derby in Sydney.
But Saturday’s $500,000 staying test is a significant drop back in quality from taking on classy New Zealand colt It’s A Dundeel and Hvasstan is one of the horses to beat.
With a handicap rating of 95, the Fastnet Rock three-year-old is rated 10 points higher than nearest rival Hioctdane.
Hvasstan proved himself adept at the 2500m trip in the spring when running a strong fourth behind Fiveandahalfstar in the Victoria Derby.
The dual Group winner will be ridden by champion jockey Glen Boss from barrier 11, four spots inside Hioctdane who received the outside barrier 15 draw.
The top local hope is having his first outing above 2000m but heads into the race on the back of a thumping 4 1/2 length win in the Group 3 Veolia Stakes at Morphetville on Saturday.
It may be South Australia’s number one three-year-old race but the field is dominated by Victorian raiders.
Thirteen of the 15 runners are trained in Victoria and other key chances include Saab Hasan’s gelding Shoreham and David Hayes-trained stayer Gerontius.
Shoreham won the Listed Galilee Series Final over 2500m at his last start while Gerontius was a solid performer when fourth in the Australian Derby.
Coming off a big 6 1/2 length win but rising in grade is fellow Hayes-trained runner Packing Empire who was far too good in a 2400m maiden at Bendigo on April 20.