Fillies Heidilicious and Shez Sinsational have been backed to beat the colts and geldings in today’s Group One Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm.
Sportingbet Australia CEO Michael Sullivan has said that the money is coming hard and fast for the fillies in the Group One 2400m classic.
“Punters have shown a lot of confidence recently backing the fillies against the boys. Shootoff has been solid in betting, but he’s the only one of the colts and geldings the punters have come for.” Sullivan said.
Heidilicious and Shez Sinsational both put in impressive runs in the Queensland Oaks, and punters believe they can continue the good run of fillies in the Derby after Dariana took out the race last year and Riva San saluted the judge in 2008.
Heidilicious continued her habit of getting away from the barriers poorly in the Oaks, and was forced to settle at the rear of the field. She never looked a winning chance but was finishing the race off strongly enough to suggest that if she jumps well she is capable of running out a very strong mile and a half.
Queensland stewards forced Heidilicious to trial during the week, and with the aid of a barrier blanket she got out of the gates without incident. The filly will again use a barrier blanket in the Derby.
Troy Corstens, who represents the stable of trainer John Sadler, is confident that a big week which included the Oaks and a barrier trail has not taken the shine off the Zabeel filly.
“Everything we have thrown at her this week she has taken on the chin and come back at us. As long as she gets away and behaves herself in the barriers she will run really well. She’s one tough cookie.” Corstens said.
Shez Sinsational finished three and half lengths behind Oaks winner Scarlett Lady after settling towards the end of the field. That was the filly’s first run on Australian soil and she is sure to have taken improvement from the run.
The Derby pictured is sure to be muddied if rain falls. Heidilicious has never raced on rain affected going, but she has won twice on a dead track, suggesting she won’t be completely hopeless in the wet. Shez Sinsational has raced mainly in New Zealand, meaning she is sure to be supported if rain falls. She was unable to win in New Zealand on a rain affected track, but she does have a second on a heavy 10 in New Zealand to her credit and she won’t run into anything like that at Eagle Farm. Shez Sinsational was able to win on a dead track in New Zealand, which roughly translates to a slow Australian track.
While the fillies have attracted the most support, bookmakers have retained the Graham Rogerson trained Shootoff as Derby favourite.
Shootoff has taken a different road to the Derby, preferring to race against the older horses instead of the traditional three year old lead up races.
Shootoff won the Frank Packer Plate at Randwick before taking out the Lord Mayors Cup at Canterbury. He’s only start during the Brisbane winter carnival has been in the Doomben Cup where he finished fourth. Some of the other horses in the race may have more race fitness than Shootoff but Rogerson is not concerned.
“I don’t think the three weeks between runs will hurt him. He’s been back to his home environment. He went super in the Doomben Cup. He’s a good horse and deserved favourite. He’s the one they all have to beat.” Rogerson said.
That is an opinion shared by the trainer of Heidilicious John Sadler.
“Shootoff is the horse to beat and always has been. I think he would beat Scarlett Lady had she started and it’s no easier for us with Scarlett Lady not there. I would rather see Shootoff not run.” Sadler said.
Heidilicious and Shez Sinsational both opened at $9.00 in Queensland Derby and Heidilicious is now into $6.00, while Shez Sinsational is into $6.50. Shootoff opened at $3.20 and has drifted slightly in the market to $3.70, but he remains favourite.