AN intriguing field of three-year-olds stayers will converge on Saturday for the Group 1 Victoria Derby, one of the highlights of a mammoth card at Flemington.
Our experts have sifted through the form and given their opinion on every runner in the field, plus their selections in the race.
GROUP 1 VICTORIA DERBY (2500M)
1 ACE HIGH ($5.50): Kept fresh after winning the G1 Spring Champion over 2000m at Randwick. Led all the way there and in the Gloaming, but the trainer has indicated he’ll take a sit here and should stay all day. A genuine chance.
2 TANGLED ($7.00): Just failed to reel in Ace High two back in the Spring Champion and chased hard behind Cliff’s Edge (that’s Aloisia form) last start. Was ridden upside down on the speed there – will
3 ASTORIA ($11.00): No match for the trifecta in the Spring Champion before charging home for third in the Geelong Classic. Was definitely the one to follow from the race but his previous form through other key chances is a worry.
4 ESHTIRAAK ($16.00): Too far back to seriously threaten when finishing five lengths from Cliff’s Edge on a leader/inside dominated day at Caulfield. Always runs well but struggles to win and happy to look elsewhere.
5 MAIN STAGE ($5.00): The only previous Flemington winner in the field, coming two back when storming home from last to round up Cliff’s Edge. Was no match for that galloper and Tangled in a sit and sprint last time out. Definite chance but from the wide gate he’ll spot them a start.
6 SULLY ($7.50): Blinkers come off this consistent stayer for the first time after being unable to reel in Ace High at each of his last two. Looks likely to stay all day and Bowman on is no negative but like his stablemate he’ll be a long way off a moderate tempo rounding the turn.
7 WEATHER WITH YOU ($6.50): Received a dream run to break his maiden in the Listed Geelong Classic. Astoria did it tough from the back and ran him to within a length and his form has been fair against others at shorter trips. Willing to risk at the price.
8 ABERRO ($51.00): Crossed the line in a bunched finish with Main Stage and Eshtiraak last start. Whacks away and the early price looks big but perhaps lacks the turn of foot to set him apart from the rest.
9 PISSARO ($21.00): Only win was over 1600m at Morphettville and has been beaten a cumulative 18L at his next two starts. Going down to Aloisia is nothing to be ashamed of but he still has many lengths to find.
10 JUSTICE FAITH ($31.00): Held up at a crucial stage in the Geelong Classic but his run three back at Flemington where 5.75L off Main Stage at the finish indicates he still has ground to make up.
11 OCEANS FOURTEEN ($14.00): We’ve not been particularly kind on the Geelong form and his second, after tailing the winner through a gap on the back of a soft run, doesn’t excite us against some battle-hardened, stakes grade conveyances.
12 GREYCLIFFE ($12.00): The genuine wildcard with different form. Comes through an unglamorous BM64 over 2200m at Seymour but he walloped them after sitting OSL and he looks the most likely leader here. The each-way bet.
13 JOHNNY VINKO ($34.00): Back, wide and never a hope at Geelong. his previous form behind Main Stage reads well but its hard to back a horse that will be buried well back on the inside with any confidence.
14 NOTHING TOO HARD ($101.00): A 10-start maiden from Paul Perry’s Newcastle yard. Couldn’t sprint with them at Geelong and won’t be able to here either.
15 ROCKARRAL ($67.00): Broke his maiden over 2100m at Gawler but couldn’t back it up at Geelong. Likely to be back up on the speed here and could give some cheek but others likely to have more dash.
16 WOLFE TONE ($21.00): Maiden from an unfashionable stable that has drawn the carpark. Negative tactics appear likely and doesn’t look a threat.
17(e) BEACHWOOD ($101.00): Five-start maiden and fourth entrant from the Busuttin & Young team. Has modest country form and his SP profile says he’s not as good as these stakes-performed runners.
We’ve taken a stand against the dominant Geelong Classic form line, which saw the first two across the line enjoy cosy runs . The third place-getter there, Astoria, warrants each-way consideration but has struggled to measure up against others in this field at stakes level previously.
We are left with the battle-hardened ACE HIGH on top due to the dream run he’ll get behind the pacemakers from barrier three. He’s the only Group 1 winner in the field. His inclusion makes TANGLED the clear second pick – from a middle draw he’ll settle midfield and get his chance in the straight. GREYCLIFFE is the wildcard on pacer who could give plenty of cheek out in front under little pressure. The Busuttin & Young pair MAIN STAGE and SULLY also go in to calculations, with a slight edge to the latter who is crying out for the extra trip and is at a better price.
1 ACE HIGH