A capacity field of 18 has accepted for this weekend’s major Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on day 1 of the inaugural The Championships, including 2014 Rosehill Guineas champion Criterion.
Unlucky not to claim a Group 1 victory prior to his last start, Criterion contested a strong 2013 spring campaign, finishing second in both the Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes (1500m) and Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) most notably.
Returning to the track in typically competitive form this time in, the exciting Sebring colt finished fourth in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) first-up before again finishing an unlucky second in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m).
Trainer David Payne has confirmed Criterion is likely to return to the spelling paddock following this weekend’s Australian Derby, but is confident in going out with a bang this weekend.
Finishing second to Criterion in the Rosehill Guineas last time out, Thunder Fantasy has also been confirmed in the final field for the 2014 Australian Derby.
Experiencing something of a meteoric rise to prominence over his maiden year of racing, Thunder Fantasy claimed his opening two spring races and steadily built towards a strong third in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) on November 2nd.
Returning to the track in arguably career best form this season, the talented Lucky Owners colt claimed the Group 2 Autumn Stakes (1400m) first-up on February 8th before producing a typically strong turn of foot to finish third in the Australian Guineas.
While unable to figure when eighth in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) just one week later, Thunder Fantasy’s performance in the Rosehill Guineas has trainer Anthony Freedman eyeing an appearance in the major Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on April 19th, and is confident of another successful showing at Randwick this weekend.
Unable to justify favouritism leading into the Rosehill Guineas and finishing a particularly disappointing 12th, New Zealand-based trainer Peter McKay is hopeful Puccini can re-find the form which delivered three consecutive wins at Group level prior to heading across the ditch.
Securing a total of five wins and four places from only 15 race starts, Puccini has quickly risen to the forefront of New Zealand, particularly over his current preparation which has delivered wins in the Group 2 Great North Guineas (1600m), Group 2 Waikato Guineas (2000m), Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) and Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m).
Also hopeful of a far sturdier running surface at Royal Randwick this weekend, McKay revealed the Encosta De Lago colt has worked well over the last fortnight and will find the Australian Derby in good order.
Exploding into Australian Derby contention with a blistering run to win the Group 2 Nathan Berry Tulloch Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill last weekend, exciting three-year-old Gallatin was anything but a household name over his first seven starts, despite winning one and placing in three others.
Trainer Peter Snowden has outlined the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) on April 19th as the major target for the Street Cry colt this preparation, and is confident of another strong performance this weekend, particularly if allocated a favourable gate at this evening’s barrier draw.
The barrier draw for the 2014 Australian Derby will be held and released at a ceremony to officially open The Championships at Royal Randwick this evening.
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2014 Australian Derby Final Field
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp Rating|
|1||00224×4281||CRITERION (NZ)||David Payne||Hugh Bowman||0||56.5kg||100|
|2||3514141110||PUCCINI (NZ)||Peter & Jacob McKay||Craig Williams||0||56.5kg||105|
|3||11593×1382||THUNDER FANTASY||Anthony Cummings||Damien Oliver||0||56.5kg||99|
|4||312310×374||SAVVY NATURE (NZ)||John O’Shea||James McDonald||0||56.5kg||96|
|5||4125×35543||TERONADO||Bruce W Hill||Craig Newitt||0||56.5kg||77|
|6||1x2131x700||KOROIBETE||Gerald Ryan||Damian Browne||0||56.5kg||81|
|7||1151×7637||SURGE AHEAD||Anthony Cummings||Zac Purton||0||56.5kg||78|
|8||3x513x6351||GALLATIN||Peter Snowden||Nash Rawiller||0||56.5kg||70|
|9||x4444x5855||HOOKED||John P Thompson||Blake Shinn||0||56.5kg||77|
|10||124144×153||BEST CASE (NZ)||Anthony Cummings||Christian Reith||0||56.5kg||73|
|11||5x0170x611||CRIME FIGHTER||Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen||0||56.5kg||73|
|12||x21925x309||TUPAC AMARU||Peter Snowden||Kerrin McEvoy||0||56.5kg||70|
|13||2868×61012||SINGING FLAME||Kevin Moses||Tim Clark||0||56.5kg||63|
|14||2419×128||CADILLAC MOUNTAIN||Peter G Moody||Chad Schofield||0||56.5kg||–|
|15||66×5100212||SOLO SAGA||Bevan Laming||Jim Cassidy||0||56.5kg||–|
|16||3310×31434||MOUNTAIN VIEW (NZ)||John Sargent||Joao Moreira||0||56.5kg||68|
|17||x14579x961||SURGING WAVE||David Hayes||Michael Rodd||0||56.5kg||–|
|18||870×003305||HERESDECASINO||Neville & Christopher Voigt||–||0||56.5kg||52|