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John O’Shea’s smart son of Savabeel Savvy Nature is in with a genuine chance of scoring their maiden Group 1 in this Saturday’s 2014 Australian Derby according to their locally-based trainer.
O’Shea knows the track at Royal Randwick well, and believes his three-year-old improver Savvy Nature will be able to atone for their last start loss on the course proper there when they run in Saturday’s $2 million Group 1 BMW ATC Australian Derby (2400m).
With fields for the four Group 1 Doncaster Mile Day races due out shortly, O’Shea is set to accept for Savvy Nature in the Australian Derby where they will step up to the mile and a half for the first time this season.
Third last October to Complacent in their Group 1 debut, the Spring Champion Stakes over the 2000m at Randwick, Savvy Nature went on to win the Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase in Melbourne.
They were then stepped up to the 2500m at Flemington for their shot at the Group 1 Victoria Derby but failed to make an impression finishing nearly 22 lengths away 14th behind Polanski.
This time in they’ve been hit-and-miss, their most recent effort a fourth behind Criterion in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m).
They ran on well in the closing stages there on a Slow (7) track, similar conditions to what they’re likely to face at Randwick on the weekend when they come up against their last start conqueror once more.
Confident they can handle the distance and a Slow track, O’Shea just hopes the rain stays away and that things improve out of the Heavy-range before the Derby to give them a better shot at turning the tables on the Derby favourite Criterion.
“He can handle a slow track – we saw that in the Rosehill Guineas, the way he finished it off, but I don’t want it bottomless,” O’Shea told The Standard this week.
To help Savvy Nature get around the track, O’Shea is also hoping for not only a firmer track but also a wider barrier in the capacity 18-starter Australian Derby field where they will again be ridden by Golden Slipper winning jockey James McDonald.
“There are going to be a lot of horses that don’t stay in this race, so I would like to draw wide and out of trouble, so James [McDonald] can take up a position off the fence,” O’Shea said.
“You don’t want to get caught behind one of those that are dropping out coming to the turn.”
While they didn’t run top three at Rosehill last start, the bookies are taking no chances with Savvy Nature and have them installed near the top of the Australian Derby betting markets.
Along with the David Payne-trained Criterion, fourth in the Vitoria Derby last year, the other major player in the markets is NZ Derby winner Puccini.
Peter McKay’s Encosta De Lago colt thrived over the 2400m back home at the start of March for their two length Group 1 win at Ellerslie.
However they over raced in their Aussie debut going from first-to-12th in the Rosehill Guineas when dropping back to the 2000m.
And O’Shea’s other main danger?
According to him the Kevin Moses-trained Singing Flame can go one better than their Group 2 Tulloch Stakes second in the mud last Saturday if the track is Heavy in the Derby.
“Just looking at him last weekend, he was the winner of that race and went much too early,” O’Shea said.
“He will stay and looks like he loves the conditions.”
Stay tuned to Races.com.au to view the official Australian Derby 2014 acceptances set for release shortly.
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