With the hype around Graeme Rogerson’s Scarlett Lady over the last few weeks it’s easy to forget about his other top class runner.
In fact when Scarlett Lady was not accepted for the Queensland Derby many assumed that the trainer was sacrificing a rare Group 1opportunity.
In reality that couldn’t be farther from the truth and Rogerson will still be saddling up the race favourite when the Queensland Derby takes off at Eagle Farm this weekend.
Shootoff has been a revelation this season and already competed valiantly at Group 1level.
In fact his last Group 1 test was against open grade horses so against his won age here he looks incredibly tough to beat.
Having this horse already in the field would have surely made him feel a lot better about not running Scarlett Lady.
“It’s supposed to rain and we didn’t want Scarlett Lady to have a gut-buster which might harm her for the spring,” Rogerson said.
“It was a big decision from Max but I’ve still got the favourite, Shootoff, in the Derby.”
Scarlett Lady will now be spelled ahead of a planned tilt at major honours back in Australia during the spring, potentially culminating in a Melbourne Cup start.
That’s the main reason he didn’t want to run her too far into the Autumn.
“A lot of people told me she could win the Derby but at least she’s going out now at the top of her game,” Rogerson said.
Shootoff ran in the Doomben Cup at his last start but since then he’s been back down to Sydney with Rogerson electing to keep him in a comfortable environment.
“I thought it was in his best interests to go back to his own environment after the Doomben Cup,” Rogerson said.
“He arrived back up on the Gold Coast this morning and he looks fantastic. He’s the horse to beat in the Derby.”
Shootoof finished fourth to Scenic Shot in a hotly contested Doomben Cup and as a result he’s the clear favourite with the bookies leading into Saturday’s Queensland Derby.
“His run in the Doomben Cup at weight-for-age was phenomenal so he deserves to be favourite,” Rogerson said.
“He’ll be on the pace and any rain won’t worry him.”
Fellow New Zealand trainer Allan Sharrock will also be represented in the Queensland Derby with the connections of Shez Sinsational coughing up the $27,000 late entry fee.
Sharrock is hoping she’ll take some improvement out of her last start third in the Queensland Oaks and be a strong contender from barrier seven.
“She worked very well this morning and I just thought she might have needed the run in the Oaks,” Sharrock said.
“She hadn’t raced for three weeks before the Oaks which didn’t help.
“It’s a gamble to pay the late fee but with natural improvement she’s a chance.
“We’re here so we might as well have a go.”
With Scarlett Lady not running and second placed Oaks filly Beccera also not in the field Shez Sinsational becomes the leading filly in the field.
In fact there’s just one other filly, Heidilicious, running in the Queensland Derby against Shootoff.