The Roger James and Robert Wellwood-trained Pinarello ran out a worthy winner of the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) on Saturday at Eagle Farm after staving off the late challenge of Paternal under an inspired Leith Innes ride.
The son of Tavistock jumped from barrier 17 in the 18-horse classic, yet Innes had him one-off the fence passing the winning post for the first time and the promising young stayer did the rest.
Pinarello had gone five weeks since winning the G2 Championship Stakes (2100m) at Pukekohe, with his Cambridge-based conditioners electing to skip the traditional lead-up, the G3 Rough Habit Plate (2143m), due to the extremely Heavy nature of the track.
The missed run mattered not as the Cambridge Stud-bred-and-raced galloper led home a New Zealand-bred clean-sweep, with the NZ suffix filling the first five placings.
James notched his 31st G1 winner and his sixth in Australia, while for training partner Wellwood, who has combined with James since 2018, it marked elite level win number three.
“It was an inspired ride. I felt we could win it with the right ride and we got the right ride,” an emotional James said.
“I thought it was of benefit, to be honest, to have missed the Rough Habit Plate, where I thought we were going to run on an inevitably bad track.
“He has been a weak, frail horse this whole preparation. He’d been seven weeks prior to his last win (in the Championship Stakes) and that was quite spectacular that day. I thought ‘We can find a better way to the Derby’.”
The emerging stayer had finished fifth in the G1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) won by Asterix in early March and a fortuitous inconvenience resulted in the Australian campaign.
“He was actually going to go home and spell after the New Zealand Derby,” James said.
“Fortunately, it was Karaka sales week and we couldn’t get a float. After a week at home I thought, ‘Holy hell this horse has come through it well’ and I decided to keep him in and here is the result.
“I’ve run second and third in this Derby previously. I’ve been placed in Sydney Derbies as well and I’ve won five in New Zealand. To win one in Australia is pretty special.”
The retained rider for Brendan and Jo Lindsay’s Cambridge Stud, Innes has previously enjoyed elite-level success in Queensland, having ridden Beaten Up to victory in the G1 Doomben Cup (2000m) and Provocative in the G1 Queensland Oaks (2400m).
“I’ve been pretty lucky, I got in with a round to go. I had to make my run a little bit earlier than I wanted as there were a couple of slow ones in front of me and he was a sitting duck for a long time,” Innes said.
“To Roger’s credit, he had him fit and we never lost faith in the horse, even though he didn’t race here two weeks ago, it might be a blessing in disguise.
“He is still a little bit weak, but he is going to be a nice horse as a four- and five-year-old.”
A half-brother to Stakes winners Bavella and Vernazza, Pinarello is out of the Zabeel mare Zonza, who won the G3 Ladies’ Day Vase (1600m) at Caulfield for James.
Pinarello is one of 13 Stakes winners bred on the Tavistock-Zabeel cross, with Derby winners including Werther (Hong Kong Derby), Tarzino (Victoria Derby) and Johnny Get Angry (Victoria Derby), while Toffee Tongue, also bred on the magic cross, was a G1 Australasian Oaks (2000m) winner.
Pinarello is the ninth G1 winner for his late sire Tavistock and has now won four of his seven starts and $719,962 in prizemoney.
Savabeel gelding Paternal was a game runner-up, while Camboche (by Vadamos) just got the better of the Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott-trained Dark Destroyer (by Proisir), who was close-up in fourth.