They may be only lightly raced with five starts to their name to date but the Michael Moroney-trained Rhythm To Spare is shaping up as a genuine threat to some of the more experienced three-year-olds set to face off in the Queensland Derby 2013 at Eagle Farm Racecourse this Saturday.
One of three elite level features running at the track from Stradbroke Handicap Day, the $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) is shaping up as a tight betting race for the punters with four horses already under double figures in the pre-field markets at bookmaker.com.au.
While John Bary’s Kiwi visitor Survived holds narrow $3.40 favouritsm, one of the other top fancies at a quote of $5 is Pins gelding Rhythm To Spare.
After back-to-back wins earlier this prep Moroney’s progressive youngster contested their first stakes race when stepping up from a mile to 2200m on May 25 when second to Hawkspur in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes at Doomben, an effort hailed as brave by jockey Glen Boss.
“His jockey Glen Boss said he thought only inexperience beat him on that occasion,”Moroney said.
“Instead of passing horses on the inside he wanted to come to the outside.”
It was an eye-catching effort despite the 2.5 length margin between them and the Chris Waller-trained winner with improvement predicated to come from Rhythm To Spare when they race again on Saturday.
“He was just green (in the Grand Prix),” Moroney added.
“I’m hoping with that extra run under our belt, and he also went from 1600m to 2200m last start, there will be a few more things in our favour since he last raced.
“Also he got a bit further back than we intended last start and had to make a long, searching run.
“He should be a little bit closer on Saturday.”
After kicking off their career in New Zealand with two second place finishes during the summer, Moroney said they had abandoned plans to target the NZ Derby and focus instead on the Queensland edition once they came down under earlier in the year.
“He was on a New Zealand Derby campaign but we had to abandon that and aim instead at the Queensland Derby,” Moroney said.
Moroney will also be represented in the Queensland Derby field by Ali Vital ($34) who will be ridden by Darren Gauci for the sixth time.
Gauci guided the Yamanin Vital three-year-old to one win from those five previous starts but was replaced by Chris Munce on May 29 when the horse enjoyed a blistering three length win in the Ascend Sales Handicap (2200m) at Doomben.
“His advantage is that he’s a real out and out stayer. If it rained it would also suit him,” Moroney said of Ali Vital.
Grand Prix Stakes winner Hawkspur meanwhile will be shooting for their third win on the trot this Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival when they back-up in the Derby having also beaten home Survived by three lengths to take out the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2100m) ate Eagle Farm on May 11.
Waller has had his Purrealist gelding Hawkspur on the Queensland Derby path since their winning trifecta during the spring – summer season in Sydney that finished with a big 2.5 length effort over 1900m at Rosehill on Boxing Day.
His confidence they will perform on their grand final this Saturday going up to the mile and a half for the first time has been boosted by their good lead-up form and their obvious liking for Brisbane.
“He has handled Brisbane really well and he will be happy on what surface there is on Saturday,” Waller said.
“He has one more grand final to run in, and I think he is ready for the 2400m.”
The 2013 Queensland Derby final field and barrier draw will be released on Wednesday with Races.com.au to publish the full list of acceptances and gates.
Before the field is out though get in on the juicy ante-post Queensland Derby odds open right now at bookmaker.com.au by following the link to our preferred online betting agency!