Soon to be crowned Hong Kong’s leading jockey Zac Purton has been booked to ride Kiwi filly Rock Diva in the Group 1 $500,000 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Cambridge trainer Tony Pike is keen to back up Rock Diva this weekend after the filly ran a luckless fourth to Tinto in the Group 1 $400,000 Treasury Casino & Hotel Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm last Saturday.
Pike has already tasted success during the Brisbane Winter Carnival with Sacred Star winning the Group 2 $175,000 Magic Millions QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm last Saturday and will also back up this weekend in the Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) with winning jockey Timothy Bell to ride again.
Purton is set to end the thirteen year premiership winning reign of jockey Douglas Whyte and scored his one hundredth winner for the season last Sunday at Sha Tin, taking him to fifteen wins ahead of his nearest rival Joao Moreira (85) with Whyte on eighty wins.
Pike was more than pleased with the effort of Rock Diva in the Queensland Oaks and after jumping from the outside of the eighteen horse field and settling near the tail made up steady ground for Tye Angland in the straight to finish fourth to Tinto.
“With a decent barrier she would have been right in it, but it wasn’t to be,” Pike told The Informant.
“She’s pulled up well though, which isn’t that surprising when she really only ran a fast final section, so the Derby is definitely under consideration.
“She’s already entered and we’ve got until Wednesday to make up our minds, but the owners are keen to give her the chance.
“We didn’t have any spring plans for her anyway and if she does back up she can go home for a decent spell and come back for summer and autumn racing.”
Rock Diva arrived in Australia with two wins to her credit, a maiden win over 2100m at Pukekohe Park and a win in the Group 3 NZ$70,000 McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m) at Ellerslie on March 5, plus a third to Miss Mossman in the Group 1 NZ$300,000 Wellfield New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on March 15.
The Lucky Unicorn filly caught the eye when she came from well back in the field to finish sixth to Arabian Gold in the Group 2 $175,000 XXXX Gold The Roses (2000m) at Doomben on May 17 before running in the Queensland Oaks.
Rock Diva won’t be the only filly running in the Queensland Derby on Saturday with Donna Logan always planning to run her filly Telepathic against the colts and geldings.
But Logan decided to bypass the Queensland Oaks and ran Telepathic n the Group 3 $125,000 Mittys Rough Habit Plate (2000m) at Doomben on May 10 where she ran second to Amexed and then followed that up with a fifth to Vilanova in the Group 3 $150,000 Mullins Lawyers Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Doomben on May 24.
Rock Diva is on the fifth line of betting for the Queensland Derby with Ladbrokes.com.au at $11 with Amexed while the Chris Waller trained Vilanova has been marked the $3.80 favourite.
Elusive Runner from the John Sargent stable and Grand Prix runner up Pinstripe Lane are next in the market order at $4.80 ahead of Telepathic at $9.50 and Rudy at $10.