To be able to get three and possibly four runners into the race says a lot about just how good the young Kiwi stayers are.Trent Busuttin
Although the luck of the draw may not have played entirely in his favour, ex-pat Kiwi trainer Trent Busuttin is confident that he and partner Natalie Young have the firepower to add another Derby trophy to their cabinet.
The pair have three confirmed starters in the prestigious A$1.5 million Gr.1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday in Main Stage, Sully and Johnny Vinko although it could be four if Beachwood can make the field from the first emergency position.
Busuttin admitted he was feeling relatively confident with their three main contenders until the barrier draw on Tuesday. Well-fancied duo Main Stage and Sully fared worst, drawing gates 14 and 15 respectively while Johnny Vinko landed a plum position at gate number four.
"There is nothing you can do about the draw as it is what it is," he said.
"We have the horses at peak fitness and we were delighted with their work on Tuesday, so it will be up to the riders to make of it what they will."
Michael Walker will ride Main Stage and Hugh Bowman will partner Sully while Stephen Baster is on Johnny Vinko.
"You can't worry about things like the barrier although it will certainly dictate how the horses are ridden," he said.
"From out wide I would expect Main Stage and Sully to go back while Johnny Vinko should be able to position himself in a nice handy spot off the back of the speed.
"Once they've found their positions it's game on from there. We have some of the best in the business aboard, so we trust them to make the right decisions on how they see the race panning out."
Busuttin and Young are no strangers to Derby success having scored in the 2011 edition of the event with Sangster while they produced Tavago to win the 2016 Gr.1 ATC Derby (2400m) at Randwick. They also produced the Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) runner-up earlier this year when Rising Red beat all but Gingernuts home in the Ellerslie feature.
"I guess we have a bit of an affinity with races like the Derby, but that is because we buy well-bred New Zealand horses who have shown time and time again that they have an edge when it comes to these sort of races," Busuttin said.
"All four of our horses were sourced from sales at Karaka and when we bought them it was with the three-year-old classics like the VRC Derby in mind.
"To be able to get three and possibly four runners into the race says a lot about just how good the young Kiwi stayers are."
Pressed as to which of his charges he feels can provide him with Derby success, Busuttin took a cautious tone.
"Both Main Stage and Sully have been very good in their lead up runs and I guess the bookmakers have reflected that," he said.
"Although they are both going to need luck I expect them to be right there in the fight.
"Johnny Vinko will also surprise a few despite disappointing a little in the Geelong Classic last time. He never really had the run to suit and with his good draw I think he can definitely improve on that effort."
The TAB Fixed Odds market for the race currently has Main Stage as a $5 equal favourite with Sydney raider Ace High, while Sully is on the second line of betting at $7 with Johnny Vinko and Beachwood at $34 and $101 respectively.
- NZ Racing Desk