ATC Derby for Caulfield Autumn Classic Winner Valiant Spirit

February 24, 2018

ATC Derby for Caulfield Autumn Classic Winner Valiant Spirit

The ATC Australian Derby 2018 in April remains the long-term goal for the progressive Daniel Williams-trained Valiant Spirit following a gallant all-the-way romp home in the Caulfield Autumn Classic.

Valiant Spirit

Valiant Spirit enjoyed an all-the-way upset in the 2018 Caulfield Autumn Classic to win his Group race debut. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos.

The Duporth gelding was up notably in grade for this year’s Group 2 $200,000 Caulfield Autumn Classic (1800m), Valiant Spirit having his black-type debut in the Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes Day event.

A winner of two of his previous eight career runs, the Mornington-based three-year-old came off a lead-up second over the Moonee Valley mile from February 9 and was only rated a $17 shot in the markets at Ladbrokes.com.au in the set weights clash.

Presenting fit and already proven at the distance a number of his rivals were seeing for the first time in the Caulfield Autumn Classic, Valiant Spirit was also advantaged by the booking of known front-running hoop Regan Bayliss.

Bayliss gave the widely-drawn horse a dashing ride, crossing early from gate 12 (of 13) to lead as the race favourites Astoria and Mr So And So settled towards the back of the field.

By the 550m Bayliss and Valiant Spirit had a few off the bit and the untapped young stayer had four lengths on the closest chaser on the turn for home.

Making up ground late were the James Cummings-trained VRC Derby third placegetter Astoria and the Anthony Freedman-trained Mr So And So coming off third and second placings in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes (1400m) at the track a fortnight back.

While tiring late, Valiant Spirit held too big a lead on the straight and held his position to finish two lengths clear of the Godolphin-raced runner-up Astoria ($3.50) with Mr So And So ($5) in third rounding out the Caulfield Autumn Classic trifecta.

“It’s a terrific result for Dan,” winning hoop Bayliss said after the race.

“He got this horse here in terrific order.

“He [Valiant Sprit] is rock hard fit and for a lot of horses, it was their first go at the 1800m today.

“We had a lovely smooth run…I wanted to make it into a staying test and he prevailed.”

Valiant Spirit’s winning time of 1:49.43 was just two seconds outside the race record and showed his potential for bigger and better things heading to Sydney later in the autumn.

“He’s so strong at the finish,” Williams said.

“He’s just an awesome galloper. He loves what he does and you saw that today.”

Williams added that 2000m and over looked the perfect distance range for Valiant Spirit who is on track for a shot at the Group 1 $2 million Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 7 during ‘The Championships’.

“He’s been feeling really well and 2000 [metres] is probably his best trip, 2000 plus,” he said.

“The 1800 today was just sharp enough for him.

“It’s always been the plan to go to a Derby.

“I guess on that we’re looking at Sydney. There’s a couple of routes to get there and some pretty tough races but we’ll see how he pulls up.”

All-in Australian Derby betting at Ladbrokes.com.au has Valiant Spirit listed as a $34 outsider.

To back the upset Caulfield Autumn Classic winner Valiant Spirit next race at the right price and to access the best futures 2018 ATC Derby odds, head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.

2018 Caulfield Autumn Classic Results & Finishing Order

Caulfield Race 2 – 24/02/2018

Place # Horse Trainer Jockey Margin Br. Weight SP
1 5 VALIANT SPIRIT Daniel Williams Regan Bayliss 12 57kg  $16
2 1 ASTORIA James Cummings Damian Lane 1.75L 11 57kg  $3.40F
3 3 MR SO AND SO Anthony Freedman Mark Zahra 2.5L 13 57kg  $5
4 6 BELFAST Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young Dwayne Dunn 2.9L 4 57kg  $13
5 13 TAGREEDA Mick Price Damien Oliver 3.4L 6 55kg  $8
6 8 RELLSON (NZ) Aaron Purcell Ben Melham 4.65L 3 57kg  $9
7 12 THINK POSITIVE John & Chris Ledger Patrick Moloney 5.9L 1 57kg  $61
8 7 WETAKEMANHATTAN Matt Cumani Jordan Childs 6L 9 57kg  $8
9 10 ZHANG FEI Mick Price Michael Dee 7.25L 7 57kg  $81
10 4 AMANITO Peter & Paul Snowden Kerrin McEvoy 9L 8 57kg  $12
11 11 WON WON TOO (NZ) David & B Hayes & T Dabernig Andrew Mallyon 9.1L 10 57kg  $61
12 14 BLUE JAY WAY Grahame Begg Beau Mertens 9.85L 2 55kg  $151
13 9 ARMED AND READY Mick Price Jake Noonan 10.25L 5 57kg  $41
2 PERUGGIA Darren Weir Brad Rawiller 0

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