At $34 in the Queensland Derby market, Ali Vital is undoubtedly a long shot at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
But trainer Michael Moroney isn’t ready to rule out the raw stayer despite also saddling up one of the top betting fancies.
Grand Prix Stakes runner-up Rhythm To Spare ($6) stands as Moroney’s best Derby hope but Ali Vital also takes strong form into the winter’s major three-year-old race.
The progressive gelding has been on an upward spiral this preparation and secured his spot in the Derby field with a commanding three-length win at Doomben last Wednesday week.
Prior to that he was a two-length winner at Warrnambool, with both victories providing Moroney with enough confidence to test him at Group 1 level.
Moroney admits Ali Vital is still a long way off finding his best but believes his charge will have no trouble stepping up to 2400m.
“He will stay and that gives him a chance,” Moroney said on his website.
“He comes off a nice [win] albeit in softer class…he’ll be stronger next preparation.”
Also on the son of Yamanin Vital’s side this weekend is his ability to perform in all conditions.
The Eagle Farm track is known to deteriorate with only the slightest of downpours and his dominant display at Warrnambool shows he can get through sloppy ground. The gelding’s other five career starts have come on good or dead tracks meaning he is ready for whatever surface is delivered on the biggest day of the winter carnival.
Current favourite for the Derby is New Zealand gelding Survived ($3.40) who is slightly ahead of Chris Waller’s in-form runner Hawkspur ($4.20).
Queensland Oaks winner Gondokoro is the only filly in the race and is considered a $7.50 chance.