Caulfield trainer Mick Price should be bullish over his chances of winning Saturday week’s Queensland Derby after last weekend’s run from his progressive colt Echoes Of Heaven.
All the attention last Saturday at Doomben was on the Peter Moody-trained Turnitup, who scored a narrow victory in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) and subsequently soared into contention for the upcoming $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm.
The Dane Shadow gelding had their Derby price slashed into $7.50 following the Grand Prix win and is now third favourite for the three-year-olds’ classic behind Shootoff ($5.50) and unlikely acceptor and favourite for this Saturday’s Queensland Oaks – Scarlett Lady ($6).
However, another promising Derby contender that finished a little further back in the Grand Prix was Encosta De Lago three-year-old Echoes Of Heaven.
After jumping from the far outside barrier 16 last Saturday, Echoes Of Heaven produced the run of the race with jockey Dwayne Dunn bringing them from last to finish less than a length away fifth.
“The alley is not significant because he gets back anyway,” Dunn said after the race.
“When I first went for him he went bang for a few strides, then he just kept coming.”
Prior to the Grand Prix, Echoes Of Heaven was a close second behind Anthony Cummings’ Shadows In The Sun in the Group 1 SA Derby (2500m) at Morphettville.
One of the only Queensland Derby hopefuls having shown form over a distance greater than 2200m, Echoes Of Heaven is sure to improve after their debut Brisbane run last weekend and is being tipped as a worthy rival for Derby favourite Shootoff.
“He (Echoes Of Heaven) will love getting to the bigger track (at Eagle Farm) and to 2400m in the Derby,” Dunn said.
Meanwhile, one runner that is as yet to guarantee their spot in the Queensland Derby field is the Kelso Wood-trained Man From Oz.
After running third in an open handicap over 1800m at the Gold Coast last start on May 21, General Nediym gelding Man From Oz will be given a final chance to qualify for the Derby on Wednesday at Doomben.
“Some people were a bit disappointed with his run at the Gold Coast but I wasn’t,” Wood said.
“I thought it was quite a good run considering he was up against open company horses and he was caught wide and got pushed even wider.”
Wood, who also has his Stradbroke Handicap hopeful Zero Rock racing in the $200,000 Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes (1400m) on Queensland Oaks Day this Saturday, will saddle up Man From Oz in the $25,000 B105 Three-Years-Old Handicap (2200m).
“This is his last chance and he’ll need to win to get into the Derby,” Wood said.
“He probably needs the prize money to lift him up the order.”
Man From Oz is a $41 roughie in the latest Queensland Derby markets, a win on Wednesday sure to see them firm dramatically.