Mike Breslin believes punters are underestimating his chances as he prepares to have his first New Zealand Derby runner at Ellerslie on Saturday.

The Awapuni trainer will be represented in the $1 million race by Stephenstihls, who will be ridden by Hayden Tinsley.

"My horse is a $60-shot and he's better than that," Breslin said. "There are going to be classier horses in the Derby, but I'm confident mine will run out the 2400 metres.

"Hayden feels the same. He says he relaxes and should have no trouble with the distance."


Breslin says he and the owners have completely changed focus with Stephenstihls since purchasing the son of Smart Missile for $220,000 from the Select Yearling Sale.

"We bought him as a Karaka Million two-year-old but he was never going to get there," Breslin said. "Then as an early three-year-old we looked at having him ready for the 2000 Guineas, but he wasn't ready."

Stephenstihls did pick up black-type last October when second to Hall Of Fame in the Zacinto Stakes at Riccarton.

He then completed a double when winning at Trentham over 1400 metres and since then Breslin has given him just two starts, the first at Ellerslie in the Karaka 3YO Mile when second-last and the other at Woodville when fourth to Irish Chat over 2100 metres. "I could have given him his first run over ground in the Avondale Guineas, but decided to go up for Karaka Million night instead and use that to look around Ellerslie," Breslin said.

- NZ Racing Desk