Mick Price’s Victoria Derby winning colt Tarzino is the headline Australian Derby nominations taken for the three-year-olds classic running at Royal Randwick on Day 2 of Sydney’s The Championships this autumn.
Running alongside races like the Doncaster Mile and TJ Smith Stakes on Saturday April 2, this season’s $2 million Group 1 BMW Australian Derby (2400m) attracted a total of 129 early entries – 20 more than last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Caulfield horseman Price shoots for his maiden Australian Derby win and is banking on his classy Tavistock colt to achieve the rare Victorian Derby – ATC Derby double.
The galloper returns to racing at Caulfield Racecourse this weekend in the season’s opening elite level, the Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m), and is early favourite in futures Australian Derby betting.
Two of the past three Australian Derby winners hailed from New Zealand with the Murray Baker-trained duo It’s A Dundeel (2013) and subsequent Caulfield Cup champion Mongolian Khan (2015).
This year the leading Kiwi raider ATC Derby-bound is the Stephen Autridge & Jamie Richards-trained Pentire colt Xtravagant.
Winner of the Group 1 NZ 2000 Guineas (1600m) in November the up-and-comer suffered a shock loss last time out in the Group 1 Levin Classic (1600m) running fourth to Dukedom, but is still on track for a trip down under.
Baker meanwhile has a trio of three-year-olds in the mix to hand the Cambridge horseman with a third ATC Derby trophy with Antonio Giuseppe, Get That Jive and Zacada.
The only Australian Derby winning filly in over 30 years was the Danny O’Brien-trained Shamrocker (2011) and this year there are 15 in the mix led by the Ciaron Maher-trained Jameka.
The daughter of Myboycharlie won the Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) on a Heavy-rated Flemington track during the spring and is nominated for a first-up run this weekend in the Kevin Hayes Stakes on CF Orr Stakes Day.
Grey Monaco Consul filly Honesta for John Thompson is the other leading female galloper nominated for the Australian Derby.
The perennial runner-up was second in the Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) and Group 1 Crown Oaks (1600m) last season and also returns on the weekend in Randwick’s Group 3 Light Fingers Stakes.
Also high-up the early Australian Derby all-in odds are the likes of Brisbane galloper I’m Belucci who was runner-up in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) in Sydney last October, the Chris Waller-trained winner of that same Randwick classic Vanbrugh who is also nominated for the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at the meeting and Gai Waterhouse’s lightly raced High Chaparral colt Stampede.
Waller has a total of seven entries while Waterhouse has three, both ace Sydney trainers shooting for their first piece of silverware in the event.
Notable omissions include Adam Durrant’s Victoria Derby third placegetter Kia Ora Koutou and the Waller-trained Trafalgar.
2016 Australian Derby first acceptances close at 12 noon (AEDT) on Tuesday March 8 before the final field is released on Tuesday March 29, 2016.