Flemington-based trainer Michael Moroney is convinced his progressive colt Quarterbar is a deserving Queensland Derby contender following their much-improved win in Brisbane on Wednesday.
Oratorio three-year-old Quarterbar bounced back after their disappointing last-start 11th to Fillydelphia in the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2020m) on May 14, going out at Doomben on Wednesday to score an emphatic four length victory over the Kelso Wood-trained Man From Oz in the $25,000 B105 Three-Year-Old Handicap (2200m).
Ridden by New Zealand hoop Chad Ormsby, Quarterbar jumped from barrier five and was never threatened as they won racing away to record just their second career victory from 11 starts, the removal of blinkers working a charm.
“We took the blinkers off him today hoping something would do the trick and it worked,” Moroney said on Wednesday.
“He was threatened with being gelded had he not won.”
It was an upset result for Kelso Wood, who was hoping Man From Oz would produce a win to gain an eleventh-hour entry into the Derby also.
The Doomben win boosted the Quarterbar’s prize money to $31,940.
Moroney is hopeful that this will be enough to earn them a spot in Saturday week’s $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm.
“You would think $30,000 in prize money should be enough to see him get into the Derby field,” Moroney said.
Thirty-five horses are still heading towards this year’s Queensland Derby after first acceptances for the classic were taken on Wednesday.
Prior to their Doomben success, Quarterbar was well down the order of entry sitting 34th on the Derby ballot.
Moroney is hoping to go all the way with Quarterbar and take out the Derby after he failed to perform at elite level during the spring.
Purchased for $47,500 at the New Zealand Bloodstock sales, Quarterbar was targeted for the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) from the get-go last season.
After two promising runs during September including a victory at Geelong over 1300m, Quarterbar could only manage to finish a well-beaten 11th to Anacheeva in the 2010 Caulfield Guineas.
“We thought he’d make a Guineas horse so we took him to Melbourne for the Caulfield Guineas,” Moroney said.
“But he didn’t do any good in the race, so we ran him next in the AAMI Vase to get ready for the Victoria Derby but he ran a dreadful race.”
Quarterbar was beaten over 14 lengths when 12th to Rekindled Interest in the 2010 AAMI Vase, Moroney sending them for a spell after the run.
Bought back at Caulfield on Blue Diamond Stakes Day this February, the three-year-old failed to produce any form in their opening four starts.
“He was unlucky and should have won at Sandown a few starts ago (fifth on March 30) when he clipped the heels and almost fell,” Moroney said.
Taken to Brisbane last month, Quarterbar finally showed his connections some hope when running second in a Class three plate over 1800m at Eagle Farm on May 4 before the Rough Habit Plate failure and finally Wednesday’s breakthrough.
“We’re not sure what happened but for some reason he raced erratically last time,” Moroney said of the Rough Habit run.
Although Quarterbar is as yet untested over a distance greater than 2200m, the ease in which they won on Wednesday means Moroney has no concerns they won’t step up to the 2400m of the Derby.
“Now that the blinkers are off him and we’ve worked him out I can’t see why he won’t get the trip,” he said.
“I had my doubts early in his career about him staying, but a lot of the jockeys who have ridden him kept saying he would.
“He’s well bred on the dam side (from Dehere mare Twiggy Summit) to run a Derby trip and he was going to win a long way from home today (Wednesday).”
In the current Derby odds, Quarterbar is rated a $21 chance with Shootoff the clear $6 favourite after their recent, eye-catching fourth to Scenic Shot in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2020m).