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Victoria Derby winner Tarzino may have finished last in a soft Geelong trial on Monday morning but trainer Mick Price believes the tough colt is more than capable of taking out the Australian Derby 2016 in April to complete a rare Derby double.
The three-year-old son of Tavistock secured his biggest turf triumph at Flemington last October taking out the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) by two lengths in a gun performance giving the youngster a record of three wins from six starts.
Now Price is planning the tricky assignment of dropping back to a mile shooting for a win in the $750,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) on March 5 ahead of his trip to Sydney for the $2 million Group 1 BMW Australian Derby (2400m) the following month.
In the $1 million earner’s first public appearance since handing Price with his first Victoria Derby success, Tarzino contested the opening hit-out on the Geelong Synthetic track on Monday.
Ridden by his regular jockey Craig Newitt, the elite level champ was last past the post crossing fifth behind his winning stablemate Celtic Tiger in the 1200m hit-out.
Price remained happy with the effort of Tarzino and believes the colt is tenacious enough to return to Group 1 winning form this Autumn Racing Carnival season.
“I’ve had a few of these Derby horses coming into the autumn and I think he’s the toughest that I’ve had,” Price told Racing Victoria.
“Mentally and physically he’s a very tough animal.
“I was happy (with the trial). The thing is he came out of the gates and there’s a lot of kickback on this artificial surface and he said he resented it.
“I would’ve thought that’s the first time that big colt in blinkers would’ve been subjected to that sort of thing so he sort of put the brakes on the first furlong but it’s not like we have to race on it.
“Obviously it was a crawl around and sprint home type of trial but he was very strong through the line – I think the horse is going fantastic.
“A trip away will do the big lad the world of good.”
He has scheduled the $500,000 Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) for the galloper’s first-up run at Caulfield on February 13, Price having won the weight-for-age classic back in 2008 with $25 outsider Shinzig.
Newitt was also pleased with Tarzino’s trial and was looking forward to continuing his association with the gun youngster in the 2016 CF Orr Stakes.
“The main aim was to get him out, get him relaxed and do his best work late – which he did,” Newitt said.
“He’s come back a lot stronger this time in so we’re looking forward to him kicking off in the CF Orr.”
From there the horse heads to the 2016 Australian Guineas second-up, Price chasing his third win in the classic after his back-to-back wins with Light Fantastic (2008) and Heart Of Dreams (2009).
The CF Orr Stakes has produced just the one Australian Guineas winner in over 30 years however when the Danny O’Brien-trained Shamus Award backed up from a third in the season’s opening Group 1 to beat home a field of his own age in 2014.
Post-Australian Guineas, Tarzino is down to head to Sydney chasing the riches of the $600,000 Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) on Golden Slipper Day, March 19.
That will be followed by a step up to the mile and a half for the Australian Derby at Royal Randwick on April 2, Day 1 of The Championships.
“I think he’s a great staying prospect – we’ve seen that in the VRC Derby,” Price said.
“We’re sticking to 1400m in the CF Orr then three weeks in to the Australian Guineas and then Rosehill Guineas and the Derby.
“If he has a good trip to Sydney and reverse way is no trouble for him and he settles in – I think you’ll see the best of him in those two Sydney runs.”
Early Australian Guineas odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have the now Darren Weir-trained Perth Group 1 winning filly Perfect Reflection as the $7 top fancy.
Tarzino is rated an $11 chance in the futures Australian Guineas betting markets and is the $4.60 favourite in the all-in 2016 Australian Derby odds.
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