Victorian trainer Paul Banks has secured the services of champion jockey Damien Oliver to ride his three year old Red Alto in the Group 1 $600,000 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on June 11.
Oliver returns to race riding at Ladbrokes Park at Sandown on Saturday after spending a month on the sidelines due to a suspension for being over the limit in an alcohol breath test at the three day Warrnambool Carnival at the beginning of May.
Red Alto is yet to visit the winner’s stall but Banks said the combination of Oliver and the possibility of a rain affected track all goes well for Red Alto to break his maiden status.
“We head into this race with a fit horse that we know will relish the increase in distance, track condition and a rider that is one of the best in the world,” Banks said via the Cloud 9 Thoroughbreds website.
“We’ve struck firm tracks all the way along and we know that he is at his best when on rain-affected going.
“The forecast looks good for us so hopefully that combined with the new Eagle Farm track we could turn a few heads and break our maiden in style.”
Red Alto was spelled after running fourth to Tarzino in the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington during the 2015 Melbourne Spring Carnival and he kicked off his current campaign with a seventh in the Listed $150,000 Bendigo Guineas (1400m) on March 19 and Banks has had the Queensland Derby in his sights from the start.
“This has been our long-term aim and it’s nice to know all things are falling into place, and we’re delighted to have Australia’s best jockey on board in the grand final,” Banks said.
The High Chaparral gelding heads to the Queensland Derby on the back of a seventh to Mackintosh in the Group 3 $150,000 Mullins Lawyers Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Doomben last Saturday.
Red Alto is currently listed as s $26 chance for the Queensland Derby at Ladbrokes.com.au who have the Chris Waller trained Mackintosh as the $3.60 favourite just ahead of South Austalian Derby winner Howard Be Thy Name at $4.20.
Early market order for the Queensland Derby at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.60 Mackintosh, $4.20 Howard Be Thy Name, $5.50 Eagle Way, $9 Encosta Line, Eschiele, $10 Etymology, $11 Provocative, $15 Imposing Lass, $17 Cylinder Beach, I’m Belucci, $21 Brazen, Rodrico, Ambience, $26 Multifacits, Dawnie Perfect, Red Alto, Tavi Bay, $34 Colonel Custer, Star Zone, $41 Harvard, Kebede, $51 Admiral Jello, Snapper, Cila, $101 Iron Boss, Last Typhoon, Maven Wiz, $201 Slaughter Bay.