The official WATC Derby 2017 field is out for the weekend’s Perth Group 2 featuring sixteen three-year-old stayers led in betting by the firm Grant & Alana Williams-trained favourite Royal Star.
Running as Ascot Race 8 at 4:50pm (local time) on Saturday, this year’s $400,000 Group 2 Schweppes W.A.T.C. Derby (2400m) features three Team Williams-trained hopefuls.
Favourite of the trio and the punters’ pick at $2.50 and firming in WATC Derby odds at Ladbrokes.com.au is progressive Redoute’s Choice filly Royal Star.
The past two Western Australian Derby winners were both Williams-trained fillies beating home the colts and geldings – Delicacy (2015) and Arcadia Dream (2016) – which bodes well for Royal Star this weekend.
She should get a gun run from barrier six with William Pike aboard chasing his third WATC Derby win on the trot.
Royal Star is joined in the field on Saturday by stablemates Final Salute (barrier seven) and Very Tempting (barrier thirteen) paying $7.50 and $4.50 respectively as the two other best in WATC Derby betting in 2017.
There is distance to overcome the wide alley for fellow Redoute’s Choice filly Very Tempting who has Chris Parnham retaining the ride in the Group 2.
Both she and her better-fancied stablemate Royal Star come off a run in the Group 3 WA Oaks (2400m) from last Saturday having run first and second respectively.
Very Tempting chases the double, while Royal Star is out to turn the tables after going down by a very narrow margin in the key Derby lead-up.
Final Salute meanwhile is a son of Not A Single Doubt coming off a second in the Listed Melvista Stakes (2200m) from March 25, Pike replaced in the saddle this Saturday by top local hoop Peter Hall.
The Melvista Stakes winner Gatting also backs up in the lucrative WATC Derby drawn in gate four with Matthieu Autier to ride the in-form Darren McAuliffe-trained Hard Spun gelding who is a $7 chance to do the double.
After an upset in the race at more generous odds are the likes of the Stan Bates-trained Melvista Stakes third placegetter Taxagano ($13) in the outside barrier (16 of 16) and Rock With You ($10) representing Melbourne’s Leon & Troy Corstens.
A son of Fastnet Rock, Rock With You comes off a different form line into the WATC Derby and is yet to race in black-type company.
He earned a chance to prove himself in tougher class interstate this weekend after blitzing a Maiden over 2046m at Benalla on March 25.
At his fourth career start, Rock With You easily accounted for his rivals by a 13-length winning margin greatly impressing co-trainer Troy Corstens.
“I did think he’d be hard to beat, but not that he’d win by 13 lengths,” Corstens told the Herald Sun.
“I knew he had ability and would run well, but the blinkers and 2000m helped him to show his full potential.”