New stable acquisition Red Shift could be the horse to give New Zealand trainer Roger James his first Group 1 $500,000 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm tomorrow.
James has been a long time visitor to Queensland for the Winter Carnival with lots of success but is yet to take home the Derby trophy, having to be content with placings in 1998 and 1999.
James has only had Red Shift for two runs and already the three year old has started to show improvement under the hand of the top New Zealand trainer.
“He’s relishing the change of scenery and the new environment here,” James said.
“His work at Eagle Farm on Tuesday morning was outstanding and he worked again there this morning.
“When I first got him his coat was ordinary but he’s thriving over here and his coat has really come on.”
James was handed the Lucky Unicorn gelding to prepare for the Queensland Derby after the three year old finished seventh to Silent Achiever, who is prepared by James, in the Group 1 NZ$750,000 Telecom New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on March 3.
Red Shift had one run in New Zealand for James and ran fifth in a 2000m three year old at Te Rapa before lining up in the Group 3 $150,000 Mullins Lawyers Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Doomben on May 26 where he finished a creditable third to the Peter Moody pair Brambles and Vatuvei.
“It was a solid performance without being flash,” James said.
“The Derby will be more of a staying test which should play into his hands more.”
“I’m confident he’ll run well again but whether he’s got the class to beat Brambles and Vatuvei remains to be seen.”
Sydney jockey Glyn Schofield will be having his first ride on the Kiwi three year old who is currently $19 in the market.
Moody’s pair are understandably at the top of betting with Brambles heading the betting at $3.60 with Vatuvei at $5.
The next best in the order is Melbourne three year Zabeelionaire ($5.50) who hasn’t had a run since winning the Group 1 $500,000 Centrebet South Australian Derby (2500m) at Morphettville on May 5.
Trainer Leon Corstens has high hopes for Zabeelionaire and is confident the Zabeel colt will measure up in the Spring.
“He’s the best Cups horse I’ve probably ever had, at least for a long, long time,” Corstens said.
Corstens is expecting to see Moody’s two chances take up a forward position and come across from wide gates while Zabeelionaire will settle back in the pack and need luck approaching the 1000m where Damien Oliver will have to decide to go wide or ride for luck.
“I guess you’re always disadvantaged being a get-back horse like Zabeelionaire,” he said.
“You always need luck, and Moody’s two will be in front of him. But I couldn’t be happier with the horse.”