Racing: Win puts Young in history books

By Mike Dillon

Tavago's upset victory in the Australian Derby could not have come at a better time for Cambridge trainers.
Tavago wins the A$2 million Australian Derby. Rider Tommy Berry copped a whip ban and was fined for a celebratory gesture on the finish line. Photo / Darryl Sherer
Tavago wins the A$2 million Australian Derby. Rider Tommy Berry copped a whip ban and was fined for a celebratory gesture on the finish line. Photo / Darryl Sherer

"The Melbourne Cup," said Natalie Young when asked what Tavago might be aimed at after the New Zealander's historic win in Saturday's A$2 million Australian Derby at Randwick.

It was timely for lofty thoughts, Cambridge based Young had just written her name indelibly into Australian turf history by being the first woman to train the winner of one of Australia's most famous races.

First raced in 1861, the Australian Derby has a history as long as the Melbourne Cup and on Saturday was run only 900m from where racing first began in this part of the world in Sydney's Centennial Park. It sprang from the playtime of the English officers accompanying British criminals to Australia.

"Well isn't that something," said Young when first told of her historic record.

Some things are just meant to be and racing, like every walk of life, depends on timing. Young and her training and life partner, Trent Busuttin, are about to move their Cambridge operation to Victoria's Cranbourne in early August.

This win could not have been more advantageous.

Boldly, they have for a number of recent years been taking horses to Sydney and Melbourne to take on Australia's best and won another Australian icon, the Victoria Derby, with Sangster in 2011.

"This Derby was great timing," said Young.

For those who had been paying attention to recent form Tavago's $31 outsider's price was no more than a mild surprise. The son of Tavistock had a setback in his preparation for the Derby at Ellerslie, but still managed to run home strongly into sixth, recording the fastest last 600m and 400m on the day.

"He was a good thing beaten in our Derby," said Busuttin yesterday.

"We knew he was on the improve so we put him on a plane and rolled the dice. He did extremely well in the final few days."

Tavago was ridden an astute race by Australia's Tommy Berry.

"I knew this horse would stay all day so I took a bit of a shortcut home on the corner and he was very strong on the line," Berry said.

"Trent is a champion bloke and I can't thank him enough for the ride. I'm glad I could win for the Kiwis."

It was not all wine and roses for Berry who became the first NSW jockey suspended for whip use.

As well as a riding ban, he was fined $2000 for excess use of the whip on Tavago. The new rule, which seems very tough, does not allow more than five applications with the whip before the final 100m. In races with a million dollars or more will that ever be adhered to if a jockey considers it the difference between winning and losing.

Berry has been considered something of a serial offender of the new rule, but has never been considered a basher of horses. "I've hit my horse less than any other horse in the race, so why are you talking to me," Berry was reported as asking the stewards. He was additionally fined for a celebratory gesture on the finish line, but copped that sweet.

Latest sire sensation Tavistock also produced the $1.65 favourite into the Derby, Victoria Derby winner Tarzino, who finished fourth. Rider Craig Newitt partially blamed what he described as a "stupidly slow pace".

"When I came out at the 700m to give him room he swapped onto his Melbourne leg and he stayed on his Melbourne leg for the rest of the race," he told journalists. "He never felt comfortable at any stage."

Berry's career has been remarkable and he described this as one of the real highlights.

"One of my best thrills was winning the Hong Kong Derby on Designs On Rome but to do it on my home land in Australia is just so brilliant. I was confident because how often do you see Trent Busuttin come over with a horse and when he does, he's confident. They run well."

- NZ Herald

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