The Queensland Winter Carnival and specifically the Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) look set to profit in the aftermath of Saturday’s Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m).
Twenty-four hours after the Stephen Marsh-trained Crown Prosecutor sprang a massive upset at odds of $105 in the Ellerslie blue riband event, three of the first five home in the race could turn out in the Brisbane three-year-old feature to be held at Eagle Farm in early June.
The connections of Crown Prosecutor, runner-up In A Twinkling and fifth-placed Surely Sacred have all indicated they are seriously considering the Queensland Derby as the logical option once they have recovered from their New Zealand Derby exertions.
Marsh, who also saddled the unplaced Vernanme in the race, outlined his thoughts for both horses when questioned about their prospects on Sunday morning.
“I think we are definitely looking at Brisbane (with Crown Prosecutor),” he said.
“He has been up a fair while, but he is one of those horses that you can’t let up on as he gets above himself.
“We had him peaking for yesterday, but I will talk with the owners and I’m picking we will be on a Brisbane path at this stage.
“Vernanme will have a light couple of days and if he is good in the next few days, I would like to go to the Rosehill Guineas and the Australian Derby with him.
“I think you will see a different horse again and just forget about the run yesterday. He’s a high-class colt and we’re pushing on to the (Australian) Derby.”
Trainer Jamie Richards was left rueing a smidgeon of luck in running as he saw his charge In A Twinkling finish runner-up for the second time in two weeks after filling that position in the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) behind Surely Sacred.
“He went a super race and probably just needed a little more cover during the run,” he said.
“He’s very tough and kept up a good gallop in the run home. I thought he was going to get him (Crown Prosecutor) all the way down the straight but he was just a little too tough for us on the day.
“We’re going to see how he comes through the next couple of days, but if he pulls up well then I definitely think Brisbane is the best option for him.
“He seemed well enough overnight so once he’s had a couple of easy days in the paddock, we can then decide on a path for him then.
“I think what he did show is that he is a genuine stayer who could be a real Cups contender next season.”
Cambridge mentor Tony Pike was also disappointed with the muddling tempo of the race after favourite Surely Sacred was left with a herculean task to try and pick up the front-runners from near last at the 600m mark.
“He just didn’t get any luck and when we wanted to be going forward, he got stuck in a real pickle,” Pike said.
“He has had to come twenty-wide on the corner, got bumped out again and had too much ground to make up on those front-runners.
“I think he ran the second fastest last 600m in the race and he did that from out in the car-park, so it was a massive effort to get as close as he did.
“We had originally intended to push on to Sydney with him, but he has had a real gut-buster so he will need some time off now which will mean that the Queensland Derby looks likely to be his target rather than the Australian Derby.” – NZ Racing Desk