Trainer Robbie Laing is hoping his smart colt So Si Bon has what it takes to turn the tables on the two gallopers that beat him home last start when facing off in a rematch at Royal Randwick in the Australian Derby.
On March 18 at Rosehill as part of Golden Slipper Day, Laing’s nicely-bred son of So You Think ran two and a half-lengths back for third in the $600,000 Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m).
It was a tough staying test in the Rosehill Guineas this autumn, the race run on a Heavy (10) track.
That benefited the New Zealand-trained winner Gingernuts who came off a lead-up win back home in the Group 1 NZ Derby (2400m).
So Si Bon meanwhile came off a tenth to Hey Doc at Flemington in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) and caught the eye of his trainer in his first run the Sydney way of racing.
On Day 1 of ‘The Championships’ at Randwick this Saturday, So Si Bon faces off against Gingernuts once again as well as the Rosehill Guineas runner-up Inference in the $2 million Group 1 BMW Australian Derby (2400m).
It will be the horse’s first run back up over a mile and a half since his fourth to Beautiful Romance at Sandown-Hillside last November in the Group 2 Sandown Classic (2400m), which followed a fourth to Prized Icon the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington in late October.
So Si Bon will have taken good benefit from his lead-up Sydney assignment and the Rosehill Guineas has produced three of the past four Australian Derby winners.
“There’s little between them,” Laing said of the first three past the post in the Rosehill Guineas speaking to the Herald Sun on Sunday.
“In the Victoria Derby, Inference finished third and we finished fourth, but we missed the start by three lengths and went back to last and had a troubled run while Inference got inside runs throughout.
“Last start in the Rosehill Guineas there was only a short half-head between them and that was So Si Bon’s first run that way of going.
“We were third-up in that race. Also I think the New Zealand horses, which have contested the New Zealand Derby, have a fitness advantage over us at their first run here but that will even up at their next start.”
The Rosehill Guineas – ATC Derby double was last achieved by Criterion in 2014 and this season the Stephen Autridge & Jamie Richards-trained Gingernuts if favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au to be the next.
A son of Iffraaj prepared out of Matamata across the Tasman, Gingernuts has won his past four on the trot and is out to continue the gun recent record of New Zealand gallopers in the ATC Derby results.
The Hawkes Racing-trained Inference won the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) before his Rosehill Guineas second and is the current second elect to take out the Derby on Saturday handing co-trainer John Hawkes with his fourth success in the classic.
So Si Bon meanwhile pays around $11 in the pre-field Australian Derby betting markets and will be Laing’s maiden runner in the race.
Laing is keenly awaiting Tuesday morning’s Australian Derby barrier draw and hopes So Si Bon gets the advantage of an inside draw after doing it tough from gate nine of twelve in the Rosehill Guineas.
“I’d love him to get a good barrier on Tuesday. He’s always drawing out in these big races,” he said.
“He ran over 2400m and 2500m last spring, so he’s had good grounding.
“I don’t think the distance will be a problem.”
Barrier one has produced the past three straight Australian Derby champions, while the last to salute from a double-digit draw was Roman Emperor (16 of 16 in 2009).
Jockey Kerrin McEvoy retains the ride on So Si Bon, due in Sydney on Thursday, this weekend chasing his first win in the race.