As the Melbourne Cup draws closer, we are lucky enough to have some awesome G1 races in the weeks leading up to the big day. Now that the Cox Plate has been and gone we can focus our attention to The Victoria Derby, one of the most prestigious set-weight races on the racing calendar. Held on the first day of the VRC Spring Carnival, this year’s Derby is the most open we have seen in years. While finding a winner will be tough, the positive in this is the chance of bagging some good fantasy points from a cheaper horse. Any runner can win these sorts of races on the day so I’m here to help you find the best value in the field.
1, 7, 11, 3, 5
Ocean’s Fourteen – Each Way
1 Ace High ($9,500) (3)
An experienced colt with impressive Sydney form. Lead the whole way his last two starts and went on with the job. Will enjoy the trip up in distance. Most recent run was a victory in G1 Moet & Chandon Stakes where he beat home Tangled, Sully and Astoria. Ty Angland on board again so look for him to lead or sit just off pace from positive barrier draw. Only one other run at Flemington where he was caught midfield and hard ridden. Have really liked his progress this prep and give him a strong chance come the business end of the race.
2. Tangled ($6,700) (11)
One of the in-form runners in this race, he has looked impressive in his last two starts. Ran the fastest last 600m at Caulfield two weeks ago ahead of Main Stage. Has been close this prep and looks to be building towards a winning run. Has had decent results being rode forward but look for him to sit midfield from a wider barrier. Definitely prefers these staying distances and has performed quite well at 2000m. Can never count out a horse from the Waller stable and will be one to keep your eye on if he gets a bit of luck.
3. Astoria ($3,100) (1)
It wouldn’t be a big race without a runner from the Godolphin stable. Astoria has had a few up and down performances this prep. Looked a massive chance coming into the straight last start in Geelong – peeled off wide from midfield, ran on well against track bias but just couldn’t track down strong leader (Weather With You). Expect Damien Lane to sit him midfield and look for cover. Did it tough in Sydney two starts ago, caught too wide and had a lot of ground to make up. Chance.
4. Eshtiraak ($2,700) (5)
Form this prep hasn’t been great with a number of midfield finishes. Nothing to suggest this will change again here with many other runners looking quite strong. Two previous runs at Flemington have been disappointing finishing 6th in both of them. Has had trouble being caught too far off the pace and then hard ridden throughout. Looked best at MV at the start of this prep where he sat a few lengths off the leader and ran on well to finish 2nd. I think 21/1 is fair, midfield finish to be expected.
5. Main Stage ($9,500) (14)
An impressive horse out of New Zealand, hasn’t missed a placing in his six starts with two wins included in those. Ran 3rd last start at Caulfield (G3) after jumping okay and settling a few lengths off the pace. Has had some trouble starting but has looked good towards the back end of the race. Was super impressive two starts ago. Jumped slowly and was last coming into the straight, peeled out with 400 to go and swamped the leaders. Will have to work hard early to get across from wide barrier and give himself a chance. One of the main players.
6. Sully ($6,700) (15)
Coming off a 3 week break to freshen up, Sully is coming into this after a couple of decent showings. He ran 3rd last start at Randwick behind Ace High and Tangled after starting poorly and never found a good spot in the race. Has been luckless in last couple runs. While it was ugly, he had a win in Bendigo last month and showed he can find a way out of trouble. Competition in this race is a whole different level and the wide barrier will mean J Bowman needs a good start to get him into a strong position. On the improve. Keep an eye on him for a place.
7. Weather With You ($6,200) (2)
A Gelding who is on the way up. Coming off a great win in Geelong last start. Jumped well and sat 2nd most of the race before rounding up the leader on the outside and holding off some fast finishing horses. Finished a couple of lengths ahead of Astoria. Best performances have been when he is just off the speed and will be given every chance this Saturday from his inside barrier. I do like the look of him and if he can be ridden similarly to his last start he will give himself every hope again. I like him as a bit of value.
8. Aberro ($2,000) (13)
The first of the rough chances, Aberro impressed in his last start at Caulfield in the Ladbrokes Classic. While finishing 4th he pushed up to the leaders and almost got 3rd on the line. Chased down Main Stage and was a few lengths back from Tangled. Tough barrier draw and a massive step up in class will leave him with a tough job to do on Saturday. Midfield finish will be a good result here.
9. Pissaro ($2,400) (10)
Finished 4th last week at Moonee Valley behind an impressive Aloisia. Was a long way back and under the whip 600m out but still ran on well. Finished ahead of Wolfe Tone. Has only one other run at Flemington where he finished last. Expect him to sit midfield but will struggle with the jump in class on Saturday.
10. Justice Faith ($2,000) (16)
Had his first win at Kyneton a couple of starts ago. Wasn’t a very strong race but ran on quite well. Ran 6th last start at Geelong a few lengths back from Weather With You and Astoria. Sat midfield most of the way and held ground okay through the straight. Will be better for the run but Saturday’s race will be a whole lot tougher. Widest barrier draw. Midfield finish to be expected.
11. Ocean’s Fourteen ($3,600) (7)
One of the rougher chances which I think is improving every race. Finished 2nd last start at Geelong a nose behind Weather With You. Closed very strong and almost won. Beat home Astoria and will travel well again on Saturday. Should be ridden on the pace on Saturday to give himself every chance. If you are looking for a horse to challenge some of the short-priced favourites, he is one to keep an eye on. Will only get better with more racing under his belt. I think he is the value in this field.
12. Greycliffe ($4,000) (9)
Has a couple of wins under his belt and looks like a horse for the future. Similar to Ocean’s Fourteen, he will be better for this run and could pull of a surprise in the placings. Last start he impressed in a win where he was challenged a few hundred out but manage to kick clear. Could be the pace in this race and try make his own luck. Another roughie challenging for the minors.
13. Johnny Vinko ($2,000) (4)
Another horse out of NZ, he was disappointing last run at Geelong where he was caught wide and had too much to do. Can take positives out of his last run at Flemington where he finished strong for 3rd. Would expect him to sit midfield and look for a bit of cover. Will do it tough here on Saturday.
14. Nothing too hard ($2,000) (12)
Contrary to his name I think Saturday will be tough for him. Has struggled in easier races this prep and experience is lacking at these bigger tracks and race days. Any finish in the top half of the field would be super impressive.
15. Rockarral ($2,000) (8)
Can forgive his last start in Geelong where he was luckless and well back in the field. Impressive two starts ago up in distance and settled forward where he prefers. Will need to be ridden forward to be any hope of finishing near the favourites. No real evidence to show he could pull off an upset on Saturday.
16. Wolfe Tone ($2,000) (17)
Another big roughie in such a tough race. A couple of place finishes in his first two starts. Haven’t seen much in any of his previous 3 runs so it is hard to give him any claims. Would expect him to be finishing the back half of the field.
17. Beachwood ($2,000) (6)
Would probably expect him to be the pace of this race and give them something to chase early on. Wasn’t too bad last start finishing second at Mornington. Definitely on the up but 101/1 seems pretty fair to me.