Queensland Derby hopeful Echoes Of Heaven faces one of his toughest tests to date at Doomben this weekend, but Caulfield-based trainer Mick Price remains positive that his colt can overcome the odds.
Encosta De Lago three-year-old Echoes Of Heaven suffered an early blow in their hopes of winning the $150,000 Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) on Doomben 10,000 Day on Saturday, coming up with a horror barrier 20 draw for the feature.
Having shown good form over their 10 start career to date, which has produced three wins and most recently a Group 1 second, Echoes Of Heaven is yet to race in Queensland and will be having their first look at the notoriously tight Doomben turn on Saturday.
Dwayne Dunn has been booked for the ride on Echoes Of Heaven on Saturday, the colt set to sharpen with the addition of blinkers for the first time.
“I’m putting blinkers on him and hopefully they’ll work,” Price said.
“I just think he’s been stargazing a bit lately and they’ll him concentrate more.
“Doomben is not his type of track and the alley will mean he’ll have to drop out which will make it very difficult for him.
“But if there’s good speed on and everything went his way he can still win.
“There’s normally a bit of push to the first corner so hopefully he’ll be able to get across into a handy spot.”
Heading towards a run in the $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm next month, Echoes Of Heaven showed their liking for longer distances when finishing a close second to the Anthony Cummings-trained Shadows In The Sun in the Group 1 SA Derby (2500m) at Morphettville on May 8.
That run has seen Echoes Of Heaven be installed as a $17 chance in the early Queensland Derby odds, that are lead by Doomben Cup fourth placegetter Shootoff at $5.50.
Prior to the SA Derby, Echoes Of Heaven ran a close third to Kittens in the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes (2020m) and was the winner of the Listed Port Adelaide Guineas (1800m) the start before.
“He raced wide in the Port Adelaide Guineas which probably suited him and won well,” Price said.
“In the Chairman’s he was held up and had to go around them when he made his run.”
Saturday gives Echoes Of Heaven of chance to further boost his claims for the winter classic, the capacity Grand Prix Stakes field featuring a number of other Derby hopefuls including in-form Kempinsky colt Chateau Fort, John Thompson’s Hour Of Peril and the Peter Snowden-trained Peck.
Robert Heathcote’s Queensland Oaks-bound filly Fillydelphia is the current $4.20 Grand Prix Stakes favourite while Echoes Of Heaven sits at $17.