Trainer Colin Webster is looking to his filly Pop Culture taking out this year’s WA Oaks – WATC Derby double, emulating Dreamaway who took out the feature double last year.
Dreamaway was trained by Grant Williams and ridden by William Pike in last year’s double and Pop Culture gets her chance to repeat that feat after taking out this year’s Group 3 $250,000 Skyy Vodka WA Oaks (2400m) at Ascot on March 31.
Webster is unperturbed that his filly has drawn barrier ten in the field of fourteen in the Group 2 $400,000 Schweppes WATC Derby (2400m) at Ascot on Saturday and has been installed second favourite at $7 behind Melvista Stakes winner Lethal Jones at $6.
Pop Culture came off wide gates when second to Full Reign in the Challenge Stakes (1500m) at Ascot on February 18 and second to Caiguna in the Natasha Stakes at Ascot on March 17 but Webster said the wide barrier would not have a big impact over 2400m as it did over the shorter distances.
Stable mate Dash For Home has also drawn out wide but Webster is hopeful the long run down the straight the first time will give his jockeys plenty of time to position his runners.
“They’re both out a bit wide but they get a good run from the 2400 start down the straight so hopefully the boys can get them in nice positions,” Webster said. “You hope for better draws but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”
“They both galloped beautifully on the grass at Ascot and they’re going in nice and fit.”
Webster is finding it hard to split his two Derby runners after both pleased him in their gallops on Tuesday morning even though Pop Culture has the benefit of winning over 2400m in the Oaks.
“I don’t think there’s a lot between them,” Webster said.
“She has been trained for the Oaks and he’s been trained for the Derby. She might have the edge on performances but he’ll be very fit.”
“She’s a really tough and enormously relaxed horse so that helps to keep them up.”
“It’s a very even field and it will be interesting to see if the form from the Eastern States performer holds up.”
Pop Culture is one of three fillies running in the Derby and jockey Troy Turner will again be on board while Jarrad Noske will take over from Turner on Dash For Home after Turner had been his regular rider throughout the Autumn.
Paul Harvey will take over the reins from William Pike on Elite Belle after the filly made up many lengths in the straight when third to Pop Culture in the WA Oaks while Pike has elected to ride the Daniel Morton trained Rock Band.