At Flemington in Melbourne, Coolmore's deceased dual Derby-winning shuttler & 6-time Gr1 victor High Chaparral (Sadler's Wells-Kasora, by Dashaan) celebrated an elite race success when 3YO brown colt Ace High (High Chaparral-Come Sunday, by Redoute's Choice) proved a class above his rivals when bounding to a comfortable win in the 163rd running of the $1.5 million Gr1 Victoria Derby (2500m) for 3YOs, defeating Sully & Astoria. Ace High, who is a direct descendant of Natalma, the dam of the legendary Northern Dancer and grand-dam of Danehill, improved his record to 4 wins (including the Gr1 Spring Champion Stakes & Gr3 Gloaming Stakes) and 1 placing from 12 starts for $1,408,375 in earnings. Trainer David Payne said Ace High had fulfilled the potential he always believed he possessed. "We've been planning the Derby since he was a two-year-old, not long after we put him into work," Payne told racing.com. "It doesn't usually work out but it has this time." Payne said Ace High would now be spelled with long-term targets being the Australian Derby in the autumn and the Melbourne Cup next spring. Ace High was purchased by Payne for $130,000 at the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale from the draft of Bell River Thoroughbreds.
Ex-pat New Zealand trainer Trent Busuttin said he expects all three of the stable's representatives to acquit themselves well in Saturday's Gr1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington, reports NZ Racing Desk. Busuttin and partner Natalie Young will have Main Stage, Sully and Johnny Vinko lining up in the $1.5 million feature, with the trio set to jump from barriers 14, 15 and 4 respectively. "There is nothing you can do about the draw, it is what it is," Busuttin 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. "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," said Busuttin. Asked to select the stable's best chance, the Cranbourne-based Busuttin said he couldn't split Main Stage and Sully. "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." Main Stage and Sully are prominent in betting markets with TAB rating them at $6 and $7 respectively. Johnny Vinko, despite his good draw, is considered an outside prospect at $34.
The final field has been declared and the barrier draw conducted for the $1.5 million Gr1 Victoria Derby (2500m) to be run at Flemington racecourse in Melbourne on Saturday. First run in 1855, the 3YO blue-riband Classic is justly regarded as one of the greatest races on the Australian racing calendar. And with names such as Phar Lap (1929), Comic Court (1948), Tulloch (1957), Sky high (1960), Tobin Bronze (1965), Taj Rossi (1973), Sovereign Red (1980), Mahogany (1993), Nothin' Leica Dane (1995), and Efficient (2006) adorning the honour roll, it's easy to see why. This year New Zealand-bred gelding Main Stage and Gr1 Spring Champion Stakes winner Ace High share TAB favouritism at $5 in what is widely regarded as a very open renewal. Next best in the market is Main Stage's stable-mate Sully and the Chris Waller-trained Tangled at $7, ahead of another Kiwi 3YO in Weather With You at $8. All other runners are at double figure odds headed by Godolphin's Astoria at $11. Click below to view the full Victoria Derby field.
Meanwhile, the race to the richest meeting on the New Zealand calendar has begun with a number of talented youngsters vying for a start. 2018 is set to showcase the enhanced Series with the $1 million Karaka Million 3YO Classic a new addition to the $1 million Karaka Million 2YO. The feature events will include a sensational support card of four Group races to be run at the Auckland Racing Club.
At Royal Randwick in Sydney, deceased dual Derby-winning shuttler & 6-time Gr1 victor High Chaparral (Sadler's Wells-Kasora, by Dashaan) celebrated an elite race success when 3YO brown colt Ace High (High Chaparral-Come Sunday, by Redoute's Choice) did just enough to hold on for a narrow win in the $500,000 Gr1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) for 3YOs, defeating Tangled & Sully. Ace High, who is a direct descendant of Natalma, the dam of the legendary Northern Dancer and grand-dam of Danehill, improved his record to 3 wins (including the Gr3 Gloaming Stakes) and 1 placing from 11 starts for $498,375 in earnings. Trainer David Payne said Ace High would now head towards the $1.5 million Gr1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on 4 November. "I think he is definitely a Victoria Derby horse," Payne told Sky Racing. "I'll speak to the owner and see how we go. I'm keen on the Derby." Ace High was purchased by Payne for $130,000 at the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale from the draft of Bell River Thoroughbreds.
Wednesday Odd Spot: Richard Stone Reeves, "perhaps the greatest modern-day horse painter", died at Eastern Long Island Hospital in New York aged 85, reported bloodhorse.com. Reeves was commissioned by many top US owners & breeders to paint portraits of their horses & his work was published in many books (including Royal Blood: 50 Years of Classic Thoroughbreds & more recently Belmont Park: A Century Of Champions). Reeves was born in New York City & grew up in Garden City (close to Belmont Park); his father Matthew Sully Reeves was a descendant of American portrait painter Thomas Sully. Reeves served in the US Navy during World War II; following the war he began painting & his portrait of 1947 US Horse-Of-The-Year Armed appeared in Life magazine in April 1948. Commissions immediately followed & Reeves "painted more international champions than any artist in history". While most of his paintings "are in the hands of private collectors, more than a dozen are hanging in the US National Museum Of Racing & Hall Of Fame". The largest known collection of Reeves paintings is owned by the Aga Khan.