A 30-man muster spanning four hours to find a potentially very valuable broodmare turned up nothing in rural New South Wales on Friday, connections of one of today’s Queensland Derby top elects left waiting to see just how much money the mare that got away could be worth.
Racing in one of the trio of elite level features at Eagle Farm’s Stradbroke Handicap Day today, the $500,000 Queensland Derby (2400m), is the Peter Moody-trained Turnitup.
While Queensland Derby odds are lead by $3.50 favourite and last start Doomben Cup fourth placegetter Shootoff, another genuine contender gaining popularity with the punters is the $7.50 third elect Turnitup.
Now set to start from barrier nine following the early Derby scratchings, Turnitup is a gelding who stormed into contention for today’s half-a-million-dollar classic with a brave last-start win in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m).
In the Grand Prix a fortnight ago, Turnitup jumped from a double-digit gate to beat home fellow Derby rival Mr Light Blue by a short-head.
An interesting sidenote to Turnitup’s career and Derby dream today is his breeding.
From well-known sire Dane Shadow, Turnitup’s dam is a forgotten Hula Chief mare aptly called No Finding.
And, No Finding it was yesterday as a search to find the mare came up with nothing.
Four years ago No Finding was left to run wild in the hills of Kitchwin Hills Stud in the Hunter Valley after her first eight foals failed to do anything of importance on the track, and she hasn’t been spotted since.
She had produced just two minor winners in Mount Isa and Broome, that was until Turnitup came along.
A winner of three of his 13 starts to date including his latest breakthrough in a Brisbane black-type, Turnitup is an emerging star who has the potential to score a thoroughbred major in the Queensland Derby.
An upset in the Derby and there’s little doubt the Hunter Valley horsemen will be back on the trial of No Finding.
While Moody has confidence in the horse’s ability, so too does Luxbet’s knowledgeable chief bookmaker Paul Vincent.
“Turnitup from the powerful Moody camp can follow on from his strong win in the Grand Prix a fortnight ago in what is a very wide open affair,” Vincent said when speaking exclusively to Races.com.au.
The other major competitor for Vincent in this year’s Queensland Derby is promising Kiwi filly Shez Sinsational.
Rated a $6 fancy in the Derby odds, Allan Sharrock’s Ekraar filly Shez Sinsational comes off a smart Australian race debut when finishing four lengths away third behind fellow Kiwi-trained Scarlett Lady in the Queensland Oaks last Saturday.
“Shiz Sinsational is the danger from a creditable third in the Oaks last week,” Vincent said.
Due to jump from a very favourable barrier five this afternoon, Shez Sinsational will have in-form New Zealand jockey Opie Bosson in the mount as she seeks a Group 1 win at just her 10th career start.
Having started over the 2400m, there is also little doubt Shez Sinsational will be one of the best to handle the Derby distance.
“The distance holds no concerns and she should get a nice run from her good draw,” Vincent said.
Sharrock also remains confident Shez Sinsational will rise to the task.
“She has done everything right and you don’t get many opportunities at home to run for half-a-million dollars in prize money,” Sharrock said.
The 2011 Channel Seven Queensland Derby runs as Eagle Farm Race 6 due to jump at 3:00pm (AEST).