Trainer Gai Waterhouse will still push on to the Group 1 $500,000 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on June 9 with Tohunga even though the three year old was a beaten short price favourite at Canterbury yesterday.
Racing New South Wales stewards opened an injury into Tommy Berry’s ride on Tohunga after the gelding missed the start and was unable to gather in outsider Star Hawk in the 2800m Benchmark 74 Handicap in the run to line for a one length second.
But Waterhouse wasn’t fazed and declared that Tohunga would be going to Queensland and was upbeat about his chances in the Derby.
“I know exactly what I’m going to do with him, take him to Queensland to win the Queensland Derby,” Waterhouse said.
“He could have easily won today if Tommy had been able to get the start right, which coincidentally is the same problem we had with his parents.”
“He had to do too much work from the 1400m. If we were in the right position, we could have easily won.”
Waterhouse will have to rectify Tohunga’s barrier manners before the Queensland Derby after the three year old has developed the bad habit of missing the start.
Berry was aboard the three year old when he also missed the start before winning his Maiden at Gosford on April 3 and Stewards want to study the video of that race to compare Berry’s ride with yesterday’s Canterbury defeat before reconvening the inquiry.
Stewards were critical of Berry’s ride for not continuing to improve around the field when he made a move at the 1000m.
“It just seemed that if you take off at the 1000 metres, why wouldn’t you keep going?” deputy chairman of stewards Greg Rudolph said.
“It’s probably a ride I can learn from watching,” Berry replied.
Chief Steward Ray Murrihy was of the same opinion, saying that Berry would still have won the race if he continued to move forward.
“It might have been a line ball decision but I think in those circumstances you would have been better suited to keep on going and slip around when they weren’t clapping on the pace,” Murrihy said.
Tohunga has had a tough campaign and after winning his maiden and a Kembla Grange 2000m Benchmark 65, Waterhouse took the Zabeel three year old to Morphettville for the Group 1 $500,000 Centrebet South Australian Derby (2500m) on May 5 where he ran a creditable fifth to Zabeelionaire.
Tohunga will clash with Zabeelionaire again in Brisbane after trainer Leon Corstens confirmed a Queensland Derby start for his three year old.
Zabeelionaire heads the market order for the Derby at $4, just ahead of the Peter Moody trained Soros while Tohunga is way down the list at $35.