Melbourne hoop Mark Zahra will play to his mount’s strengths in the 2016 South Australian Derby at Morphettville on Saturday and leave Charlevoix alone early to save the favourite for a late run in the staying classic.
The Michael Kent-trained Charlevoix from Cranbourne is one of a full field of 16 three-year-olds facing off in Morphettville Race 7 at 4:25pm (local) this afternoon – the $500,000 Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) continuing the action of the Adelaide Autumn Racing Carnival.
Drawn in barrier 11, which produced last year’s winner Delicacy (2015), the New Approach colt sits top of the SA Derby odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $3.80 for the win after a last start victory at Sandown-Hillside on April 9.
Charlevoix posted his second career success at start number four in the Listed Galilee Series Final (2400m) from the same gate 11 draw with Luke Nolen aboard, Nolen injured in a subsequent horror fall in Adelaide during the Robert Sangster Stakes last weekend.
The winning youngster had two and a quarter lengths to spare over Cool Chap in the Melbourne Black-Type, indicating he will handle the step up to 2500m in the Derby without a worry.
Zahra meanwhile rode Charlevoix to victory on debut at Sandown-Hillside over 1400m in early February and again for his mid-field sixth behind Tally in the Group 2 Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield later that month.
He has enough experience on the horse then to know the favourite will be doing his best work late on Saturday afternoon.
“He got no early pace. He goes best when you leave him alone early and save him up,” Zahra told The Australian.
“If he brings the same turn of foot that he did at Sandown the other day I can’t see much that can beat him.”
The Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained Galilee Series Final runner-up Cool Chap meanwhile backed-up to win Flemington’s Listed VRC St Leger (2800m) by over two lengths on Anzac Day, franking the form around Charlevoix.
The High Chaparral gelding is charged with overcoming the outside South Australian Derby barrier (16 of 16) if he is to enjoy back-to-back wins, Cool Chap paying $6.50 to do so for the first time since Kidnapped (2010).
The other major players in the South Australian Derby betting markets this season are the in-form Howard Be Thy Name ($5.50) shooting for four wins on the trot and Tarquin who is the market mover backed in from $7 to $4.80.
Darren Weir prepares Redoute’s Choice colt Howard Be Thy Name, the horse coming off back-to-back wins at the Morphettville track after completing the Listed Port Adelaide Guineas (1800m) – Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes (2020m) double in April.
He has John Allen coming aboard in place of Brad Rawiller, who is in Brisbane on Saturday for a trio of BTC Cup Day rides including two for Weir.
His first for the Melbourne Cup winning horseman at Doomben is on Perth Cup winning mare Real Love in the $125,000 Group 3 JRA Cup (2000m) before he partners with outside chance Stratum Star in the $500,000 Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m).
While saying Real Love was “going really well” ahead of the Group 3 run, Weir has all but written off the chances of Stratum Star ($21) from barrier 12 of 13 over 1200m in the opening Group 1 of the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
“I don’t think Stratum Star’s good enough over that trip. As long as he’s finishing off he’ll head to the Doomben 10,000,” Weir told the media throughout the week.
The $750,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) takes place on May 28.
Head to Ladbrokes.com.au now for access to all of this weekend’s and the entire autumn – winter racing season’s best markets!