Wine Bush stamped himself as a 2016 Victoria Derby contender with a strong staying performance in the UCI Stakes at Flemington this afternoon.
Wine Bush was unwanted in the betting market in the lead-up to the UCI Stakes, but jockey Hugh Bowman gave the High Chaparral colt a peach of a ride and he got his nose at the right time to record a very narrow victory from Rocketeer.
Bowman said after the UCI Stakes that he has always had a high opinion of Wine Bush as stayer and he is confident that the three-year-old will be more than competitive in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on October 31.
“I drew nicely and he is a progressive type,” Bowman said.
“We have always had a high opinion of him and up to the 1800 with blinkers on today, he is only going to get better as he gets over more distance.
“The Ingham’s have a couple of live Derby chances in my opinion.
“It is exciting.”
Wine Bush went into the UCI Stakes as maiden after having five race starts in Sydney, but Waller was always confident that the colt would develop into a genuine racehorse.
Waller confirmed that the Victoria Derby was the major 2016 Spring Racing Carnival target for Wine Bush and he believes that the UCI Stakes winner is finding his best form at the right time.
“It has been a tough winter due to a lot of wet tracks and it has been hard to get a good guide on a lot of our horses,” Waller said.
“What we have been able to maintain is a bit of race fitness and he has just been steadily learning his way.
“He is a very laid-back horse and he is very well-bred being by High Chaparral.
“The blinkers have certainly helped switched him on.
“What we learnt with Preferment is that they don’t have to be great two-year-olds, they just have to have a well-timed preparation towards the spring.
“That is important for any horse, but particularly the Derby-type horses.
“He is going to have the miles under him and he will have another race in between.”
Rocketeer looked the winner at the 100 metre mark before Wine Bush appeared on the scene late, while Highlad toughed it out on the speed to finish third.