The Stephen Marsh-trained Vernanme is taking some solid form into the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on Saturday and his trainer thinks the three-year-old will be hard to beat in the $1 million Classic.
The son of O’Reilly dead-heated for second-place in the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) with Hypnos at Trentham in January before running on to place in the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie last-start.
There was a slight concern with the colt after he pulled a front plate on his way to Ellerslie for the Avondale Guineas, which resulted in a nail going into his sole, but Marsh said he has pulled through that run well.
“He has done super,” Marsh said. “He just hasn’t missed a beat at all. He was probably a little tender for a day or two once the bruising came out, but he was good in the race.
“I think he has improved again and 2400m is ideal. He has drawn barrier 11 and will probably come into 10, it’s not as bad as a couple of the others, but not as good as we would have liked.
“It’s Jason’s (Waddell, jockey) job now. We have got the horse in great order and he’s a real chance.”