2023 Victoria Derby Results: Riff Rocket Holds In Photo Thriller

November 4, 2023

2023 Victoria Derby Results: Riff Rocket Holds In Photo Thriller

It was a thrilling Victoria Derby 2023 result for the ages with the 170th edition of the time-honoured classic narrowly going the way of the punters with the Chris Waller-trained favourite Riff Rocket just holding on to salute.

2023 Victoria Derby winner Riff Rocket

2023 Victoria Derby winner Riff Rocket just held on to salute for the punters. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos.

For the second time in as many weeks the Hayes Racing stable suffered a heart-breaking narrow feature race loss with their gutsy Vase winner Apulia finishing second by a short half-head in this year’s Group 1 $2 million Penfolds Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington.

Last weekend at The Valley it was their star miler Mr Brightside just beaten after flashing into second behind the Hong Kong champion Romantic Warrior in the Group 1 $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m).

This Saturday on Day 1 of the Melbourne Cup Carnival they nearly stole the major in the final stride with a fast finishing effort up the inside by Apulia on the double back-up.

In the end however it was Waller’s well-backed top elect, American Pharoah gelding Riff Rocket, who came away victorious improving on his second in the Group 3 Caulfield Classic (200m) to Sunsets a fortnight ago.

That horse was also there running out the 2500m Derby distance strongly with Sunsets third to complete the trifecta at headquarters.

With the win Waller became a three-time VRC Derby winning trainer having prepared past champions Preferment in 2014 and Manzoice in an upset last year.

Star jockey James McDonald, who is preparing to ride the reigning champion Gold Trip in Tuesday’s Group 1 $8.41 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m), continued his ace spring carnival with the winning ride which was his first in Australia’s oldest feature race.

J Mac gave Riff Rocket a peach of a ride settled midfield throughout getting a beautiful run in transit before coming home strongly up the middle.

Apulia ran out of his skin chasing the upset and lost few admirers after being denied by the bob of a head in a thrusting finish.

“The race unfolded beautifully in terms of where James had him positioned,” Waller’s stable rep Charlie Duckworth told Sky Thoroughbred Central post-win.

“Obviously the eventual second place-getter challenged us late.

“Coming into today no one is sure whether they’ll stay the 2500 (metres).

“It’s called Derby Day and this is the Group 1 you want to be winning on the day and we’ve been fortunate enough to go back-to-back.”

2023 Victoria Derby Results & Finishing Order

Finish No. Horse Trainer Jockey Margin Bar. Weight Penalty Starting Price
1 4 RIFF ROCKET Chris Waller James McDonald 5 57kg $2.20F
2 1 APULIA Ben, Will & JD Hayes Mark Zahra 0.1L 3 57kg $4.20
3 5 SUNSETS Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young John Allen 1.1L 16 57kg $13
4 9 KOSGEI Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young Blake Shinn 3.35L 12 57kg $51
5 2 VERDAD Robbie Griffiths & Mathew de Kock Jye McNeil 7.85L 4 57kg $12
6 13 MERCANTE Nigel Blackiston Damien Oliver 8.05L 11 57kg $41
7 8 GATES Peter G Moody & Katherine Coleman Luke Nolen 8.8L 14 57kg $11
8 15 WARIALDA WARRIOR John Ramsey Darryl McLellan 9.1L 9 57kg $101
9 6 MAKE A CALL Peter & Paul Snowden Ms Jamie Kah 10.1L 15 57kg $81
10 10 BULAWAYO Pat Carey & Harris Walker Ms Celine Gaudray (a) 12.85L 7 57kg $81
11 12 ROGUERY Lloyd Kennewell & Lucy Yeomans Billy Egan 13.15L 1 57kg $41
12 7 GOLD BULLION (NZ) Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Opie Bosson 14.4L 13 57kg $20
13 3 AIR ASSAULT Andrew Gluyas Ben Allen 16.15L 6 57kg $17
14 14 TO BE FRANK (NZ) Ciaron Maher & David Eustace Jamie Spencer 19.65L 10 57kg $91
15 11 SACRED EAGLE Symon Wilde Jordan Childs 20.05L 2 57kg $101
16 16 TOKYO RUN (NZ) Dean Mirfin Declan Bates 20.25L 8 57kg $201

Table Credit: Racing Australia.

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