The Summer of Glory officially gets underway this week at Tabcorp Park Melton and whilst the $300,000 Group 1 Great Southern Star is the headline act, top billing may actually belong to the three-year-olds competing in a deep and competitive Victoria Derby.
We’ll take a quick look at the other group 1 races on the night but let’s focus on what promises to be a magnificent Victoria Derby.
1 CODE BAILEY – Glen Craven for Marg Lee
Looms as the juicy each-way bet after landing the ace draw. Performed well running second to Spankem in the heats and has continued to improve with more racing. He’s likely to hand up ensuring a sweet run without copping any pressure. Being crossed by a few is his only concern early in the race then Graven will need to decide which horse to trail.
2 TAM MAJOR – Rodney Petroff for Emma Stewart
One of the five Stewart runners in the race, Tam Major is a real rough hope in this one but he could be a factor early. He was a close up third to unbeaten favourite Lumineer last week. Unless he can get to the pegs quickly, Petroff may find himself getting shuffled well back in the field.
3 MARATEI – Nathan Jack for Emma Stewart
Suffered his first career defeat last week to Lumineer after impressing on his first four visits to the racetrack. Currently $10, he’s a shade under the odds for mine but his camp have a big opinion of him so do not be surprised to see him in the finish.
4 SPANKEM – Mark Purdon for Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen
He’s not the best three-year-old the stable has had but his best certainly rates him in the top couple here. He was outstanding early in his rookie season and despite missing some work before the heats, led all the way for an easy victory at Ballarat.
Where he gets to in the run is interesting and may ultimately decide his fate. Gate speed is something he seems to have and Purdon may need to press the issue early.
5 CORZIN CHANGE – Mark Pitt for Emma Stewart
Performed admirably in a slowly run opening heat last week in which Poster Boy, Colt Thirty One and The Devils Own sprinted home in staggering time.
Earned his place in this one and will be better again for the new stable but you’d think this race is a bridge too far for the Changeover colt.
6 LUMINEER – Jason Lee for Ange McDowell
This cinderella story is about to enter its toughest chapter yet. Lumineer won everything with ease as a two-year-old before succumbing to injury late in the season. He’s returned with three straight wins including a workman-like heat victory last week.
Trainer Ange McDowell has conceded the headstrong colt will need to be at his very best mentally to ensure he does not throw away his chance.
Alongside Poster Boy he’s clearly the horse with megastar qualities and winning this Derby will see him well on his way to that standing.
7 POSTER BOY – Chris Alford for Emma Stewart
His final hit-out before the Derby heats was canned due to a lighting issue at Shepparton and his trainer was concerned he was underdone heading into his qualifier. Any fears were increased when he followed up The Devils Own three-wide as the leaders got away with relatively moderate splits but Poster Boy unleashed a sprint that only the very special ones possess. Improvement is expected due to the missed race at Shepparton and should Alford be able to lob a handy spot, by gee he will take some beating.
8 MAJOR TIMES – Gavin Lang for Emma Stewart
A talented youngster with the powerful Stewart stable and he should end up three-pegs in transit ensuring he will at least get a look at the line in the lane. Group 1 races are often peg-dominated affairs so whilst he is some way off the best horses in this one, his role in transit may see him a place hope.
9 YANKEE ROLLER – Gavin Lang for Emma Stewart
Emergency only after disappointing somewhat last week after copping a sweet run behind eventual winner Spankem. Draw will be kind enough should he get a run but on last week’s form he will need to improve significantly.
10 THE BROOKLYN BRAWLER – Phillip Walters for Phillip Walters
I watched this gelding top the All-Stars high-profile runners on New Zealand Cup day in November and he has since made Australia home with Phillip Walters.
His South Australian Derby run was full of merit as was his heat effort at Ballarat.
Removing the emergency will help his cause and he is likely to run an excellent race as usual but winning may not be a chance.
11 COLT THIRTY ONE – Grant Dixon for Grant Dixon
Really liked this colt throughout the Breeders Crown series last season and he has again come to Victoria as one of the top few in his age bracket.
The Queenslander was backed into outright favouritism last week but was gunned down on the post by a slashing Poster Boy. The draw has treated him poorly here and he will need things to go his way to be a winning chance at the top of the lane.
12 LITTLE PEANUT – Greg Sugars for Jess Tubbs
This guy is a stable favourite and his effort can never be questioned. He’s outgunned at this level but Sugars will drive him cold and hope they obliterate each other up front.
He’s a knockout place hope and could add value to first four’s peeling off a good horse’s back.
13 – THE DEVILS OWN – Natalie Rasmussen for Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen
HRV’s Blake Redden picked this guy as his top hope for the series. He’s from the dominant Purdon-Rasmussen barn but is probably their number three seed after Chase Auckland and Spankem. His heat run was full of hope as he carted Poster Boy into the race and was only beaten a few metres off the back of an interrupted prep.
Like the horses drawn 10, 11 & 12 he will need extreme early speed and maybe even a tow into proceedings.
1 Poster Boy: His heat run was incredible and his barn think the absolute world of him. His outside gate is awkward but he’s likely to get the breeze whenever he so desires. A magnificent each way bet but I like him to win it all.
2 Lumineer: He behaves and finds the front then he probably wins but even trainer Ange McDowell has expressed concern about his temperament. His heat win was solid without being spectacular and I doubt he can cross those inside him without burning hard.
3 Spankem: You can be certain Mark Purdon will have his charges in even better nick than they were last week. And Spankem did things so easily in his heat that you’d think any level of improvement will see him right in the hunt.
4 Code Bailey: I rate The Devils Own and Colt Thirty One as better horses but you cannot ignore the run this guy is likely to get in transit. Handing up to a Lumineer or Spankem is probably ideal so he can follow them into the sprint lane.
R1 – N11 Cruz Bromac to win
R2 – N4 Cruisin Around to win
R3 – N8 Ample Power each way
R4 – N1 Lennytheshark & N2 San Carlo quinella
R5 – N1 Golden Goddess from N8 Ameretto exacta
R6 – N3 Red Hot Tooth to win
R7 – N7 Poster Boy each way
R8 – N3 Stars Align & N1 Our Little General quinella
R9 – N10 Margaret Ruth to win
R10 – N4 Ascot Encounter to win