Price Echoes SA Derby Hopes

Victorian trainer Mick Price will assess the performance of his well-bred Encosta De Lago colt Echoes Of Heaven in a Listed race at Morphettville on Saturday before making a final decision on whether to accept them for the upcoming SA Derby.

Echoes Of Heaven is one of 27 three-year-olds nominated for this year’s $350,000 Group 1 SA Derby (2500m), which is set to run at Morphettville’s Super Sunday along with The Goodwood on May 8.

The impressive winner of the Listed Adelaide Guineas (1800m) on April 16, Echoes Of Heaven will have their next start in the $115,000 Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes over 2020m at Morphettville on Saturday.

In the Chairman’s Stakes barrier draw Echoes Of Heaven came up trumps with gate one and is due to be ridden by Clare Lindop in the race earmarked as a traditional SA Derby lead-up.

“Echoes Of Heaven will run in the Chairman’s as a lead-up to the SA Derby,” Price said.

“I’m not sure if he’s a Queensland Derby horse.

“I think he might be.”

The Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) runs at Eagle Farm on Stradbroke Handicap Day, June 11.

“He’s a real grinding type of stayer,” Price said of Echoes Of Heaven.

“I’m looking forward to getting him to a mile and a half.

“I think he’ll go really well there.”

Echoes Of Heaven, a full brother to Group 1 winner Manhattan Rain, has been nominated for the $500,000 Queensland Derby along with 131 other hopefuls.

Other notable acceptors among the 12 horse SA Chairman’s Stakes field for Saturday that Echoes Of Heaven will face are Stephen McKee’s ultra consistent Kiwi galloper Starcheeka coming off a Group 3 win in NZ, Redoute’s Choice three-year-old Zarjina and the Peter Snowden-trained Backgammon who ran third to Echoes Of Heaven in the Adelaide Guineas last start.

Echoes Of Heaven is the current $7.50 third favourite to take out the 2011 SA Derby in the early betting markets behind $3.50 top elect Right Of Refusal, winner of the Listed VRC St Leger last Monday at Flemington, and Backgammon.

Other notable SA Derby nominees include the Robert Hickmott-trained Encosta De Lago gelding Weighted, John Thompson’s Mossman filly Jeter and the David Hayes-trained Precious Lorraine.

Also among the 2011 SA Derby entries is the up-and-coming Sky Raider, the Tony McEvoy-trained Reset three-year-old earning a shot at a Group 1 field after winning the Heartkids SA Handicap (2100m) at Gawler by three and a half lengths last Wednesday.

“He keeps stepping up,” McEvoy said of Sky Raider.

“On Wednesday he was fabulous.

“He is a progressive young horse.

“He has been very strong at the end of his 2100 metre races, is bred to stay and I’m confident he can run the 2500 metres of the Derby.

“Sky Raider is only three once and to be fit, sound and in-form he is worth a shot at the race.

“Quite often in Derbies a number of runners don’t stay the trip and Sky Raider gives every indication he will.”

There were 34 early entries for the other SA Derby Day feature showdown with hulking sprinter Hay List fresh off a win in the All Aged Stakes topping the $350,000 Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) nominations.

Mick Price has Echoes Of Heaven’s stablemate Dubleanny entered for The Goodwood, the four-year-old mare having shown promise with a slick win over 1200m at Flemington on Anzac Day.

“She’s in good order and pulled up really well since her win on Monday,” Price said of Dubleanny.

“So hopefully we end up there and plot a course into the Winter Stakes but we’ll just see what happens in the Goodwood first.”

2011 Betfair SA Derby Nominations

# Horse Trainer
1 ACHILLES HEEL Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes
2 AMERICAN JET Libby Haworth
3 BACKGAMMON Peter Snowden
4 BERTUCCI Lloyd Kennewell
5 CONDAHUSSLER Heath Conners
6 CONDELAGO Mick Huxtable
8 EXCLUDED (NZ) Robert Hickmott
9 GLACIER KING Peter White
10 HANDSOME AS Roslyn Day
11 HEEZ BORN LUCKY (NZ) Leigh Childs
12 IMPACT POINT John Hickmott
13 INTEGRATION (NZ) Robert Hickmott
14 JETER John P Thompson
15 KING CAN SING Shane Bottomley
16 KITTENS Mark Kavanagh
17 LALLA ROOKH Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas
20 RIALYA Lloyd Kennewell
21 RIGHT OF REFUSAL Nigel Blackiston
23 SHADOWS IN THE SUN Anthony Cummings
24 SKY RAIDER Tony McEvoy
25 STRATOCRACY Michael Moroney
26 WEIGHTED Robert Hickmott
27 ZARJINA Fran Houlahan & Brian Johnston