This Saturday while the action of Australian Derby Day takes center stage in Sydney, Perth punters will be treated to a bumper day’s racing at Ascot with the headline event being the WATC Derby 2012.
Set to jump at 4:15pm as Ascot Race 7 on Saturday this year’s edition of the $400,000 Group 2 Schweppes W.A.T.C. Derby (2400m) has drawn 14 hopefuls, the same number of starters as jumped in the classic last year.
Twelve months ago the then Grant Williams-trained Dreamaway, now prepared at Mornington by Dean Binaisse, beat home the boys with a big win in the 2011 WATC Derby which was the daughter of More Than Ready’s fifth Group win on the trot.
This year Williams will be represented in the WATC Derby field seeking back-to-back wins with his Canny Lad filly Elite Belle who has suffered an early blow drawing the extreme outside barrier 14 of 14.
Elite Belle comes off a solid third to Pop Culture in the WA Oaks (2400m) from March 31, the same race Dreamaway won before her Derby success last autumn.
Last year’s WATC Derby winning jockey William Pike was aboard Elite Belle for her two most recent runs, but has decided to partner the Dan Morton-trained Rock Band in barrier six, the Rock Of Gibraltar gelding looking to improve on their sixth to Lethal Jones in the Listed Melvista Stakes (2200m) last time out.
With Pike on Rock Band, Elite Belle will be ridden by Paul Harvey in the Derby, Pike and Harvey both out for their fourth win in the race.
“It was a tough decision,” Pike and Harvey’s racing manager Dale Verhagen said.
“There’s not much between them (Elite Belle and Rock Band) and it looks to be a pretty open race.”
Williams’ hopeful Elite Belle is one of three fillies seeking successive wins for the females in the feature along with Colin Webster’s WA Oaks winner Pop Culture in barrier 10 and the Lindsey Smith-trained perennial runner-up The Social Network in gate 11.
Ultra-consistent Blackfriars filly Pop Culture has won four of her past six runs giving her the right form for Saturday as she looks to secure the same WA Oaks – WATC Derby as Dreamaway last year.
Starcraft filly The Social Network meanwhile comes off three straight seconds including behind Pop Culture in the WA Oaks.
They have had an unusual Derby lead-up with connections running The Social Network over a mile last Saturday in a Westspeed 3YO Handicap where they ran a close second to Elusive Image.
Along with Pop Culture the two other last-start winners in this year’s WATC Derby are the Michael Moroney-trained Victorian raider Flashy Fella drawn in barrier two with apprentice jockey Jake Noonan to ride, and the Luciani’s Melvista Stakes victor Lethal Jones in gate seven.
Other notable chances worth a look in at the WATC Derby odds at bookmaker.com.au include TJ Smith Trophy winner Flag Officer, JC Roberts Stakes champ Rohan coming off a Melvista Stakes third and Neville Parnham’s Melvista runner-up Reign Of Terror drawn on the rails.
See below for the complete 2012 Schweppes WATC Derby field, barriers, jockeys and weights.
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2012 W.A.T.C. Derby Field, Barriers & Jockeys
Ascot Race 7 – 4:15pm – 14/04/2012
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight|
|1||232X023125||FLAG OFFICER||Paul Jordan||Craig Staples||8||56.5kg|
|2||X30X414721||FLASHY FELLA (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Jake Noonan (a)||2||56.5kg|
|3||8X74149113||ROHAN||Vaughn Sigley||Glenn Smith||4||56.5kg|
|4||86524X1271||LETHAL JONES||Lou Luciani & Dion Luciani||Jason Whiting||7||56.5kg|
|5||8117089||UNCLE GEORGE||Frankie Maynard||Shaun Meeres||13||56.5kg|
|6||15X13264||DASH FOR HOME||Colin Webster||Jarrad Noske||12||56.5kg|
|7||23189X3992||REIGN OF TERROR||Neville Parnham||Steven Parnham||1||56.5kg|
|8||4780252140||DRIVE WEST||Joe Miller||Peter Hall||5||56.5kg|
|9||322136||ROCK BAND||Daniel Morton||William Pike||6||56.5kg|
|10||361X940050||SOUTHERN DRAWL||Hec McLaren||Paul King||9||56.5kg|
|11||49323412||CALIFORNIA DUDE||George Daly||Chad Davies||3||56.5kg|
|12||252X112121||POP CULTURE||Colin Webster||Troy Turner||10||54.5kg|
|13||X13X396222||THE SOCIAL NETWORK||Lindsey Smith||Peter Knuckey||11||54.5kg|
|14||41243||ELITE BELLE||Grant Williams||Paul Harvey||14||54.5kg|