Pam Gerard says she doesn't feel pressure as she takes Savile Row as favourite into tomorrow's $1 million Vodafone New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie.

If you believe that you'll be sitting at the bottom of your chimney at 11.45pm on December 24.

It's just that she doesn't see it as pressure.

"I just go about doing my job and if I can get him there in the best possible condition on Saturday afternoon, I'll be happy," she told the Herald.


For the record, the legendary Bart Cummings, although you wouldn't know it, felt enormous pressure before every Melbourne Cup, a race he made his own.

"Well," said Gerard, "to make myself feel a bit better I did some retail therapy on Wednesday."

The purchases? A new car and two dresses.

No pressure. Yeah right.

If Savile Row gets over the line in tomorrow's classic and adds anywhere between another three to five million to his residual value as a potential stallion, much thanks will be owed to Gerard, who originally trained in Ashburton and moved north six years ago.

In terms of derbies, she and her Melbourne-based training partner Mike Moroney are worlds apart. Moroney has three times produced the winner of tomorrow's race.

Gerard's biggest goal was winning the 2003 Great Northern Hurdles at Ellerslie with Narousa, ridden by her partner Tommy Hazlett.

But she has been critical to the development of Savile Row.

She woke up early that the generally quirky colt did not need the amount of work you would imagine looking at him. Savile Row is a solid, if not bulky type who almost looks gross until you get to know him.

"He's an extremely clean-winded horse and doesn't need the level of work you'd imagine," she said.

"When Mike [Moroney] came over [from Australia] at Christmas he watched him gallop and he said: 'You're right, he is a really clean-winded horse'."

The benefit of that as Gerard sees it, is Savile Row can be eased from work and brought back up with minimum of work, not possible with most horses preparing for a derby.

"It took a bit of confidence to ease back to the level of work he requires, but I think we've got it right now."

If Savile Row is beaten it could be because of his current mental approach. He might be best described as a big kid.

"At home he's like a pet lamb, he's the biggest softy you could imagine, but when he's at the races, or doing something away from home, he gets his mind wound up.

"I don't know if it's [a lack of] concentration or inexperience."

The colt has a tendency to move over towards other horses in the

closing stages of his races, whether they be on his right or left.

A shadow roll, which he wore in his special gallop at Ellerslie on Tuesday will be worn in the Derby to hopefully distract him from

moving off line as much.

"And [jockey] Michael [Coleman] will carry the whip in his right hand in case late in the race he looks to lug in on other horses."

Retail shopping apart, Gerard eases her mind by thinking of the vagaries of racing.

"He could stand on a shoe and prick a hoof and be out of the race.

"It all comes down to luck."

And a colt forgetting to be playful.

Punting pointers

• Fitter now:

Hollywood Lass, R1, Ellerslie. Just topped off last time, but should resist better here. Tough field, but she will be in it.

• Each way: Miss Dalghar, R2 Ellerslie. Has a tough draw, but has won her last two impressively and worked well at Ellerslie's special gallops on Tuesday. Good field, but with luck early she will be in it.

• Place bet: Excalibur, R9 Ellerslie. Has come to his best at the right time for the Derby. Will run it right out and that is what will stop some of them.

Derby market

$4 Savile Row; $6.50 Gingernuts; $6.80 Sacred Elixir; $8.50 Camino Rocoso; $9.50 Charles Road; $11 Windspelle; $16 Mongolian Wolf; $18 Excalibur.