Ideal Derby Draw Keeps Group 1 Dream Alive for Huxtable

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.

Right Of Refusal

Right Of Refusal is the early favourite for the SA Derby

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