The always confident Gai Waterhouse is more bullish than ever over her chances of winning Saturday’s 2014 Victoria Derby with race favourite Hampton Court after his brilliant piece of Flemington work on Tuesday morning.
One of 26 three-year-olds nominated for this year’s $1.5 million Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m), Waterhouse’s in-form Redoute’s Choice colt had his first look at the Flemington track today ahead of his distance test this weekend.
The Sydneysider has won his past two starts back home at Randwick but is yet to race outside of Sydney.
He looked to handle the Melbourne way of racing and the roomy Flemington course without issue this morning however when put through his paces at Victoria’s premier track.
Working with Waterhouse’s fellow Group 1 winner Diamond Drille who is Myer Classic-bound this Saturday, Hampton Court put in a strong gallop to narrowly beat home his stable mate running the fastest 1400m of the morning in 1.37.73 with a final 400m sectional of 25.84.
“Outstanding, absolutely outstanding work,” Waterhouse said afterwards.
Two back Hampton Court won the Listed Dulcify Quality (1600m) despite being blocked for a run near the 200m and then last time out on October 11 Josh Parr rode him to a tidy two and a half length victory over the better fancied First Seal and Sweynesse in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m).
Sweynesse trumped that form then when beaten under two lengths by Adelaide when eighth in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) last weekend.
Based on his lead-up form and today’s work, Waterhouse rates her galloper as the one to beat in the Derby where he’ll be ridden by Kerrin McEvoy.
“I tell you he’s the horse to beat and I think he’ll win easily,” she said.
“He’s got everything you look for in a Derby colt.
“He’s big, strong, got a superb temperament and he can stay.
“This is a very special horse that has come into his own since he’s got to 1900, 2000 (metres).
“He’s the horse on Saturday that ticks all the boxes.”
The bookies agree and have Hampton Court installed at the top of the futures Victoria Derby odds, the young gun paying $2.80 through Ladbrokes.com.au to secure back-to-back Group 1s.
There are then three other single figure fancies in the current markets including the Chris Waller-trained Preferment ($6).
Runner-up to Nozomi last time out in the Listed Geelong Classic (2200m), nicely bred Zabeel colt Preferment also worked at Flemington this morning and looked sharp with the blinkers on that he’ll also don on Saturday.
“They’ve run 24.69 seconds for their last 400 metres but I thought he looked quite sharp over the final 100 metres,” Flemington clocker Warren Huntly said.
“The addition of blinkers might’ve done the trick and they’ve run a solid overall time.
“He’s a horse that tends to hit a flat spot so what we saw today was very positive.”
The next best in betting are then Mick Price’s Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase winner from last Saturday Moonovermanhattan ($7) and runner-up from the Cox Plate Day lead-up Atmosphere ($9) for New Zealand horseman Trent Busuttin.
Get behind your early Victoria Derby selections online now at Ladbrokes.com.au before the release of the final field of acceptances at 10am (AEDT) tomorrow morning followed by the 2014 Victoria Derby barrier draw at 12:30pm.