Ruthven the Improver in Saturday’s Queensland Derby Field

Trainer Ciaron Maher believes his SA Derby runner-up Ruthven is the improver heading into Saturday’s 2017 Queensland Derby in Brisbane.

Hugh Bomwan

The season’s leading Group 1 winning rider Hugh Bowman is booked to ride Ruthven in Saturday’s Queensland Derby 2017 field. Photo: Sarah Ebbett.

The Domesday colt is described by Maher as a “big, raw horse” and Ruthven has continued to rise through the ranks this season heading into the $600,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2200m) at Doomben Racecourse this weekend.

In the Queensland Derby field Ruthven will face off against his last start conqueror looking to turn the tables on the Darren Weir-trained Volatile Mix who beat him home a half-length in the Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) on May 13.

Ruthven was also fourth past the post back in April 1 at Royal Randwick during ‘The Championships’ beaten only two lengths by the Kiwi Jon Snow in the Group 1 ATC Derby (2400m).

A perennial placegetter, the up-and-coming stayer hasn’t won a race since going back-to-back in his opening two career starts in Victoria last spring.

He’s been one of Maher’s most consistent youngsters ever since however and on Monday Maher confirmed the booking of Hugh Bowman for the Queensland Derby bid.

“We kept him racing after Sydney because he’s a big, raw horse who is improving with each run and his run was very good in Adelaide,” Maher told Racing Victoria this week.

“He had to do it both ends and was very strong through the line.”

Bowman has had 10 rides in the Queensland Derby over the past 30 years for just the one third place finish and comes aboard Ruthven for the first time in the Group 1 on the weekend.

The hoop is however the leading jockey down under this season with 12 Group 1 victories this season to date.

Maher and Bowman may not have partnered up much over the years, but their strike-rate together is excellent and includes the 2014 VRC Oaks win of Set Square and Jameka’s The BMW success back in March.

After winning the SA Derby, Volatile Mix had a lead-up run in Brisbane finishing runner-up to the local Brian Smith-trained Order Again in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Eagle Farm on May 27.

The Grand Prix Stakes has proved the standout form race to follow into the Derby over history including producing three of the past five winners.

Brambles (2012) and Hawkspur (2013) both did the double that Order Again is current $4.80 favourite in pre-field Queensland Derby odds at Ladbrokes.com.au to do this season, before Eagle Farm improved on a Grand Prix second for his win 12 months ago.

Ruthven meanwhile occupies the third line of Queensland Derby betting at $6, with Volatile Mix just shorter at $5.

View the latest Brisbane Group 1 racing odds online now at Ladbrokes.com.au enjoying access to the best winter betting markets across the season.

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