Champion Sydney trainer Chris Waller looks set to have four runners in the Group 1 $600,000 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Eagle Farm is set to boast a mammoth ten event program following the transfer of the Group 1 $500,000 Treasury Casino & Hotel Queensland Oaks (2400m) from the washed out Eagle Farm meeting last Saturday.
The Queensland Oaks was set to be the first Group 1 race to be decided on the newly reconstructed Eagle Farm course proper but the heavy rain that lashed South East Queensland on Friday night and Saturday forced the cancellation of the meeting.
Now the Queensland Oaks will be one of four Group 1s to be decided on the opening day of the new track, and as well as Queensland Derby, the $600,000 BMW J.J. Atkins (1600m) for the two year olds and the $1.5m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) will also be contested.
Waller will saddle up $4 favourite Mackintosh in the Queensland Derby along with Encosta Line ($8), Rodrico ($17) and Multifacets ($26).
Mackintosh made it three wins for Waller from three starts when he raced on the pace to record a solid win over Eagle Way and Howard Be Thy Name in the Group 3 $150,000 Mullins Lawyers Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Doomben last Saturday.
Mackintosh’s other two wins for the Waller stable were in a 1500m BenchMark 77 Handicap at Hawkesbuty on April 30 and in the the Group 3 $125,000 Mitty’s Rough Habit Plate (2000m) at Doomben on May 14.
A decision to run Mackintosh in the Queensland Derby was initially put on hold after his win in the Grand Prix, but Waller confirmed in the middle of last week that the three year old would take his place in the blue riband for the colts and gelding.
“We have also made the decision that Mackintosh will definitely run in the Queensland Derby,” Waller said.
“We are very happy with the way that he has come through his winning run in the Grand Prix over the 2200m-distance and having seen him come through the race and having a good look at his profile, we have no doubt that he will run the 2400m.”
Grand Prix Stakes placegetters Eagle Way and Howard Be Thy Name are also among the first acceptances for the Queensland Derby.
While Eagle Way will be stepping up to the 2400m for the first time, the Darren Weir trained Howard Be Thy Name will have no trouble running out the distance after winning the Group 1 $500,000 South Australian Derby run over 2500m at Morphettville on May 14.
Blake Shinn has been aboard Mackintosh for his two wins during the Brisbane Winter Carnival in the Rough Habit Plate and in the Grand Prix Stakes and will ride the gelding in the Queensland Derby.
Hugh Bowman has returned to Australia after riding in Japan for a month and will take the mount on last start Rosehill winner Encosta Line who was scratched from the Grand Prix Stakes because of a blood irregularity but Waller said that the three year old had not missed any work and will line up in top condition in the Queensland Derby.
“Hugh Bowman will ride Encosta Line in the Queensland Derby, Blake Shinn will ride Mackintosh, Joao Moreira will ride Rodrico and our other Derby runner is likely to be Multifacets.”
Rodrico is also a last start winner in a 2000m BenchMark 74 Handicap at Randwick on May 28 while Mulifacets failed to beat a runner home when thirteenth to Mackintosh in the Grand Prix Stakes.
Early market order for the Queensland Derby at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4 Mackintosh, $4.20 Howard Be Thy Name, $5 Eagle Way, $8 Encosta Line, $9 Eschiele, Etymology, $11 Provocative, $15 Imposing Lass, $17 Rodrico, I’m Belucci, $21 Brazen, Dawnie Perfect, Cylinder Beach, $26 Multifacits, Ambience, Red Alto, $34 Tavi Bay, Star Zone, $41 Harvard, Colonel Custer, $51 Cila, Kebede, Snapper, $67 Admiral Jello, $101 Last Typhoon, Maven Wiz, Iron Boss, $201 Slaughter Bay,