The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Sydney’s leading lady of racing Gai Waterhouse celebrated her maiden victory in the 2023 Australian Derby results with a gutsy win by the stable’s up-and-coming young stayer Major Beel.
The Group 1 $2 million Australian Derby (2400m) is one of the few majors on the Australian Racing Calendar to have eluded Waterhouse whose famous father, the late TJ Smith, holds the record having won the event nine times.
Waterhouse now has her own ATC Derby trophy to put in the cabinet training the 2023 winner in partnership with Adrian Bott.
“I know Gai will be watching. How good Gai you’ve won an ATC Derby! Gai and Adrian picked this horse out, we have got beautiful owners in this horse,” stable representative Neil Paine told Sky Thoroughbred Central post victory.
“We’re all jumping up and down. Adrian is unfortunately not here today because he had a family commitment (sister’s wedding).
“I’m sure Adrian at the wedding will be going beserk.”
Savabeel gelding Major Beel was on the quick back-up having run a devastatingly close second behind Tapildoodledo in last Saturday’s Group 2 Tulloch Stakes (2000m).
That run had been his first in Group company, and with a notable rise in both class on distance on the short turnaround, he was a forgotten horse in this year’s Australian Derby field going around at $31.
Jockey Tim Clark retained the ride on the progressive young gun and gave Major Beel a perfectly timed run.
Major Beel had the gate speed to get into a winning position early as they jostled for positions in the fourth Group 1 at Randwick on Day 1 of The Championships.
After briefly sitting in the lead, Major Beel eventually settled on the fence right up on speed second behind the pace-maker Domingo.
The backmarkers made an early move a long way from home with Mark Twain taking off at the 1000m and jockey Hugh Bowman getting on his back aboard the favourite, last start New Zealand Derby winner Sharp ‘N’ Smart who was wide but with plenty of cover.
The field bunched as they cornered for home, and it was the Liam Howley-trained Virtuous Circle looping the field who looked a danger off his lead-up 12th behind Cascadian against the older horses in last weekend’s Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington.
Clark didn’t panic on the front-running Major Beel however who looked a sitting duck in the lead the entire straight.
The eventual Australian Derby winner just kept finding more to give, lifting late and simply outstaying his rivals on the Heavy track in a stylish upset in the classic.
Major Beel dashed away from them and then rallied when Virtuous Circle came for him over the closing stages.
On the line he had three-quarters of a length to spare over Virtuous Circle ($19), ridden by Brett Prebble, while the Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young-trained Suizuro ($41) added further value to the Australian Derby trifecta running a further length back third at a big price.
“He travelled a bit strong throughout because he’s come out of two really fast run races,” winning jockey Clark said post-race.
“Obviously up in trip to a really steady mile and a half, he just over travelled a bit throughout but that was helping him get through the ground.
“I felt them coming down the side but was just mindful of trying to hold onto him and help him as long as I could. He showed a great turn of foot at the top of the straight.
“On the line late, the second horse was coming to me, but he really dug in and fought hard like last week. Thankfully he was able to get his head in front today.
“I was keen to stick hard fence because most of the track has been used and chewed up a fair bit. But the inside looked alright cantering around so I thought I’d give it a go.
“Massive thrill to win a race like this and give Gai her first. I’ve been able to win a couple of races to give Gai her first, but there’s not a lot she hasn’t won. It’s nice to tick this box. I’ve got a really good friend involved in the ownership, so yeah it’s a great thrill.
“Obviously the support I get from Gai and Adrian (Bott), I wouldn’t be here without them. It’s a bit of payback for them.”
The beaten Graeme & Deborah Rogerson-trained favourite Sharp ‘N’ Smart ($3.90) meanwhile could only manage to finish 2.5 lengths back fourth after running wide the entire trip.
2023 Australian Derby Results & Finishing Order
|1||13||MAJOR BEEL (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Tim Clark||15||56.5kg||$31|
|2||12||VIRTUOUS CIRCLE (NZ)||Liam Howley||Brett Prebble||0.81L||18||56.5kg||$19|
|3||10||SUIZURO||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||Joao Moreira||1.66L||4||56.5kg||$41|
|4||1||SHARP ’N’ SMART (NZ)||Graeme & Deborah Rogerson||Hugh Bowman||2.54L||17||56.5kg||$3.90F|
|5||14||HIGH APPROACH||Archie Alexander||Jordan Childs||3.78L||10||56.5kg||$101|
|6||3||ELLIPTICAL||Anthony & Sam Freedman||Mark Zahra||4.38L||3||56.5kg||$16|
|7||6||ANDALUS (NZ)||Stephen Marsh||Zac Purton||4.72L||8||56.5kg||$21|
|8||15||STROKE OF LUCK||John O’Shea||Tom Marquand||5.02L||9||56.5kg||$21|
|9||4||PERICLES||James Cummings||James McDonald||8.07L||6||56.5kg||$4.40|
|10||9||MARK TWAIN (NZ)||Roger James & Robert Wellwood||Kerrin McEvoy||9.37L||5||56.5kg||$7.50|
|11||18||TWIGMAN (NZ)||Paul Shailer||Luke Dittman||9.58L||7||56.5kg||$101|
|12||11||TAPILDOODLEDO (NZ)||Kerry Taplin||Reece Jones (a)||9.71L||11||56.5kg||$81|
|13||7||FULL OF SINCERITY (NZ)||Andrew Forsman||Damian Lane||10.37L||16||56.5kg||$19|
|14||16||CHEVAL SAVANT||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||John Allen||12.64L||2||56.5kg||$81|
|15||8||JAPANESE EMPEROR (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Ben Melham||12.71L||1||56.5kg||$12|
|16||5||WILLIAMSBURG||Gerald Ryan & Sterling Alexiou||Ryan Maloney||12.86L||12||56.5kg||$18|
|17||17||DOMINGO (NZ)||John O’Shea||Brenton Avdulla||13.24L||13||56.5kg||$61|
|18||2||MANZOICE||Chris Waller||Michael Dee||17.84L||14||56.5kg||$20|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
Racing fields and data are copyright 2011-2021 © Racing Australia Pty Ltd (RA) (and other parties working with it).
Racing materials, including fields, form and results, is subject to copyright which is owned by RA and other parties working with it. Full copyright notice.