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Rosehill’s David Payne has described his Victoria Derby winner Ace High as looking a million dollars ahead of the horse’s autumn return targeting the 2018 Australian Derby.
High Chaparral colt Ace High has already amassed over $1.4 million in prize money from a dozen career starts headlined by back-to-back Group 1 wins during the spring.
The Sydneysider first saluted at elite level at Randwick on October 7 with a narrow victory in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m).
A month later he joined a select group of three-year-old champs, heading south to Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival where he ran away for a two length triumph in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m).
The Spring Champion Stakes – VRC Derby double is a hard to complete one, Ace High just the fourth to do so, and Payne is confident the young stayer can continue to make the history books this autumn.
“He looks a million dollars, he’s put on weight and has come back much stronger,” Payne told Racing NSW.
“He’s a big boy, he just had to fill out a bit. He’s put on more muscle, some of the weight will come off but you can see across his rear he’s filled out nicely.”
The colt has been back in work at Rosehill for a fortnight and is being prepared for a shot at the Group 1 $2 million Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 7 during ‘The Championships’.
He has a notable hoodoo to overcome to be successful however with 24 years between now and the last Victoria Derby winner to back-up the next year and take out the Australian Derby.
“I think there would be improvement in him, being a High Chaparral and looking a stronger horse,” Payne said.
“There could be something coming through the ranks still and that’s how the game goes. But he’s only been out to 2000m or more three times and he’s won them all.”
Mahogany (1993-94) was the most recent to do the interstate Derby double, with the only other being Dulcify (1978-79) since the Australian Derby was moved from the spring to the autumn that season.
Monaco Consul meanwhile was the last VRC Derby winner to finish in the money without winning the ATC Derby when third behind Shoot Out back in 2010.
Former South African trainer Payne enjoyed Australian Derby success back in 2014 with the champion Criterion.
Payne has Ace High down to trial in a month’s time before a likely autumn kick-off in the Group 2 $400,000 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on February 24.
“I don’t want to back him up early in his prep so we might have to go to a 1200m then to 1400m but we’ll work it out once we’re further along,” he said.
“I don’t want to start off in Melbourne, I’d rather kick him off here but there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge.”
To back Ace High over the autumn at the best horse racing odds online head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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