The Queensland Derby in recent years has been plagued by wet tracks. This year however the track should be dry and playing fair. Actually this meeting at Eagle Farm on Saturday is one of the best in recent memory with nice weather forecast and huge even fields being the order of the day. Two of the best three-year-olds of all time in Kingston Town and Tulloch have won the Queensland Derby in the past. They both dominated in Sydney during the autumn and probably deserved a spell but TJ Smith took them north anyway to win more feature races. Strawberry Road and Rough Habit have also won the Derby in the past.
Hawkspur looked like a bit of a duck during the Sydney autumn, but in Brisbane as the race have got longer, he has improved out of sight. He has won the two traditional lead up races very easily and Jimmy Cassidy has been riding him with so much confidence. Hawkspur is getting better and better as the races get longer and this is crucial considering Saturday’s Derby is 2400m and a horse has to be tough and proven to win this race and Hawkspur is definitely that.
Survived has been beaten by Hawkspur this preparation but it was on a bog track that was really favouring the leaders. Before that Survived had strung some really nice performances together in New Zealand. These Kiwi horses always perform well in Brisbane. It is probably because their trainers really want to get away from raining cold NZ and holiday in the Brisbane sun. A holiday is always better with the cash after a big win. Survived is consistent and runs on well. He will at some stage look the winner; he has been set for this race and may just be the one to beat.
Electric Fusion has not been running in the same class of race as the above mentioned two, but his last start at Sandown really sparked some attention. Burdened with 60kg on a 54kg limit on a heavy track from barrier 13, Electric Fusion came from last to miss winning by three inches. It was a remarkable run considering everything that was against him. Straight after the race, Robert Smerdon made arrangements to get the horse to Brisbane for the Derby. He looks like he has the toughness and the class that is required to win this race. Unfortunately the son of Fastnet Rock has drawn barrier 22 and will most likely have to drop back to last. However on his last run, Electric Fusion has the class and the late sectionals to get past most of the horses in this race. A really good chance at good odds.
Gondokoro won the Oaks last week with the greatest of ease. It was a good aggressive ride and a pretty standard win. Everyone in Australia wanted to tip this filly in that race so it was no surprise she was able to win with such ease. She has been up for a long time but she is getting better and better with each run. She had enough class to run 4th to Norzita in the Group One Storm Queen over 2000m then she ran a good race in the Sydney Oaks, a good second in the Doomben Roses and won the Oaks. Really it is just the question of if this filly is as good as the boys? She gets weight relief and on her recent performances she looks a really good each way chance. On looking through her results she is just so consistent; when investing money on a race, all we can hope for is that our choice of horse gives its all to win. Gondokoro have given her all in every start she has had.
Verdict: The two favourites will be hard to beat but the big odds about Electric Fusion and the $7 about Gondokoro seems to be the way to go.
4th. Hawkspur. Ultra consistent (of late!) and really looks ideally suited at the 2400m. Very hard to beat.
3rd. Survived. The holidaying Kiwis are always competitive. Will start the favourite and will loom up at some stage and look the winner.
2nd. Electric Fusion. That last 400m of this horse’s last start was Bernborough like. It was unbelievable. A repeat of that will get him near the leaders in this race.
1st. Gondokoro. Proven at the 2400m, fit, weight relief and a touch of class are the factors that lead us to this girl. She is a really good horse and will be one to watch not just on Saturday, but also in the spring.
By Zeb Armstrong