Murray Bridge trainer Mick Huxtable’s hopes of securing his maiden Group 1 victory enjoyed a boost today when his consistent three-year-old Condelago came up with barrier one for Saturday’s SA Derby.
There were 17 acceptors, 16 starters plus one emergency, for this year’s $350,000 Group 1 SA Derby (2500m), running at Morphettville as part of Super Sunday along with the $350,000 Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) that also attracted a full field.Early favourites to take out the SA Derby include Victorian raider Right Of Refusal coming off a sharp four length victory in the VRC St Leger at Flemington, Peter Snowden’s improving Domesday colt Backgammon, well-bred Encosta De Lago colt Echoes Of Heaven who is a winner at the Morphettville track over 1800m and Mark Kavanagh’s in-form Redoute’s Choice filly Kittens.
A longer-priced outsider that came up trumps in the SA Derby barrier draw is Delago Brom gelding Condelago due to jump from gate one with Chad Lever in the mount.
A winner of four of their 13 starts to date, Condelago has plenty of experience at the Morphettville track but is as yet untested over the 2500m distance of the Derby.
At his first start over a distance greater than 2000m, Condelago ran an encouraging fifth beaten two and a half lengths by fellow Derby rival Kittens in the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes (2020m) last Saturday.
Prior to that they came within a half length of Mick Price’s Echoes Of Heaven when second in the Listed Port Adelaide Guineas (1800m) on April 16.
“We’ve set him for the Derby all the way along,” Huxtable said of Condelago.
The closest Mick Huxtable has come to experiencing Group 1 glory was with his Archway mare Moment In Time, recently sold to Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm and now under the training of John Thompson in Warwick Farm.
When prepared by Huxtable, Moment In Time came within quarter of a length of becoming a Group 1 winner when a brave second to Zarita in the 2008 Schweppes Oaks.
“They’re pretty hard to win those (Group Ones) unless you have a stable full of top horses,” Huxtable said.
“It would have been nice to win one with her (Moment In Time) and she came close but probably didn’t have that touch of luck you need when it counted.”
Meanwhile Caulfield trainer Mick Price is happy with how Echoes Of Heaven came through his third place finish behind Kittens and Backgammon in the Chairman’s Stakes.
“He’s always promised to be a Derby colt and he’s had a really nice prep,” Price said.
“He was good on Saturday (in the Chairman’s), hit the front 100m out, but those horses with a big more momentum down the outside nutted him.
“He hasn’t got a margin on them ability-wise but the distance suits and he’s ready to go.”
Echoes Of Heaven drew well mid-field with barrier eight and will be ridden by Craig Newitt, aboard for the Port Adelaide Guineas win, in the SA Derby on Saturday one on the outside of the punters’ favourite Right Of Refusal in barrier seven.
Backgammon also drew ideally in gate three with Mark Zahra booked for the mount while Kittens has some work to do from barrier 16, but over the distance will have plenty of time.
2011 Betfair SA Derby Field & Barriers
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||X8741X6032||BACKGAMMON||Peter Snowden||Mark Zahra||3||56.5kg||80|
|2||71X3852121||RIGHT OF REFUSAL||Nigel Blackiston||Michael Walker||7||56.5kg||82|
|3||419X805436||SHADOWS IN THE SUN||Anthony Cummings||Ben Melham||11||56.5kg||82|
|4||5535X41625||CONDELAGO||Mick Huxtable||Chad Lever||1||56.5kg||84|
|5||X1X45X1413||ECHOES OF HEAVEN||Mick Price||Craig Newitt||8||56.5kg||87|
|6||11X7112X48||HEEZ BORN LUCKY (NZ)||Leigh Childs||Rhys McLeod||12||56.5kg||75|
|7||71X8013107||RIALYA||Lloyd Kennewell||Shayne Cahill||2||56.5kg||72|
|8||25X51123||WEIGHTED||Robert Hickmott||Corey Brown||15||56.5kg||67|
|9||X1321X5086||BERTUCCI||Lloyd Kennewell||Zac Purton||6||56.5kg||70|
|10||423X16331||STRATOCRACY||Michael Moroney||Ms Lisa Cropp||17||56.5kg||66|
|11||0X22211||SKY RAIDER||Tony McEvoy||Simon Price||4||56.5kg||68|
|12||38X3514||INTEGRATION (NZ)||Robert Hickmott||Steven King||5||56.5kg||62|
|13||0048X84510||PRECIOUS LORRAINE||David Hayes||Dwayne Dunn||13||54.5kg||84|
|14||63184X7001||KITTENS||Mark Kavanagh||Michael Rodd||16||54.5kg||72|
|15||111X474444||JETER||John P Thompson||Paul Gatt||14||54.5kg||82|
|16||410X510022||LALLA ROOKH||Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas||Ms Clare Lindop||9||54.5kg||74|
|17e||06X6532||HANDSOME AS||Roslyn Day||Adrian Patterson||10||56.5kg||57|