Opinion The outsider set to surprise on Derby Day: our preview and tips
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The outsider set to surprise on Derby Day: our preview and tips

mick price tarzino
Tarzino won the 2015 Derby. Photo: Getty
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Melbourne Cup Day might attract more mainstream attention, but with four Group 1 events, Victoria Derby Day is known as ‘racing’s Grand Final day’.

It is now the best-attended meeting of the Spring Racing Carnival and another huge crowd will be on hand at Flemington for a day headlined by the $1.5 million Victoria Derby.

The field for the 2500m race for three-year-old stayers is eclectic – featuring a Group 1 winner in favourite Sacred Elixir, and a runner yet to win a race – but with plenty of mystery about which horses will run out the distance, it is a must-watch race.

The Derby also proves to be an excellent guide for future stars, with six of the race’s last eight winners proving to be multiple Group 1 winners.

Sacred Elixir’s trainer Tony Pike is confident ahead of Saturday’s main race.

“He’s moving well. He’s nice and relaxed, I couldn’t be happier with his condition,” he told The New Daily.

“No excuses for Saturday – hopefully he gets a trouble-free run.”

tony pike sacred elixir
Sacred Elixir is in good form. Photo: Getty

Among the favourite’s main rivals are So Si Bon, the Ciaron Maher-trained Beach Life and Prized Icon.

Riding So Si Bon is three-time Derby winner Hugh Bowman, and trainer Robbie Laing – who guided Polanski to 2013 Derby success – said the star jockey is happy with his ride.

“He [Bowman] came in and said, ‘I think we’re in business, boss’,” Laing told The New Daily after trackwork.

The runner-by-runner form guide 

sacredelixir1 – Sacred Elixir (Barrier 1, Form – 61×181)
Trainer: Tony Pike, Jockey: Zac Purton

Won well last start and claimed Group 1 in Brisbane this winter. Deserves favouritism.

prizedicon2 – Prized Icon (5 – 46335)
James Cummings, Glyn Schofield

Has form around Cox Plate placegetter Yankee Rose. Forgive his last run.

swear3 – Swear (10 – 1×162)
Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes, Tommy Berry

Stable have always had the Derby in their sights. Can’t discount.

rocketeer4 – Rocketeer (19 – 12222)
Mick Price, Mark Zahra

Ran some good seconds behind Wine Bush and Good Standing. Barrier a concern.

morvada5 – Morvada (12 – 1×2232)
Peter Jolly, Steven Arnold

Strong finisher last week at big odds. Six placings in nine starts, too.

inference6 – Inference (20 – 1×1143)
Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes, Dwayne Dunn

Tough draw but is in decent form.

captainduffy7 – Captain Duffy (2 – 5×9601)
Phillip Stokes, Craig Newitt

Was on speed in his Geelong Classic win. Fourth run at Flemington so knows track.

silvera8 – Silvera (13 – 1127)
Tony McEvoy, Kerrin McEvoy

Finished well back last week but beat home Morvada the start prior in Adelaide. He’ll get back and run on.

wine-bush9 – Wine Bush (17 – 37515)
Chris Waller, Joao Moreira

The UCI Stakes winner. The ‘Magic Man’ Moreira goes on. He’ll need his wand to win from this draw.

sosibon10 – So Si Bon (11 – 6×1653)
Robbie Laing, Hugh Bowman

Placegetter last week who has been very consistent at Group level in his past three.

kent11 – Kent (4 – 1×6258)
John O’Shea, James McDonald

A get-back horse who flashed from last to fifth in the UCI Stakes. Could place off a similar run.

highlad12 – Highlad (15 – 1139)
Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, Craig Williams

Third in UCI Stakes earlier this month but struggled last run.

beachlife13 – Beach Life (8 – 6×6194)
Ciaron Maher, Nicholas Hall

Flashed home last start in very impressive fashion. Maher-Hall combination won Caulfield Cup. Really like.

tumultuous14 – Tumultuous (18 – 46564)
Chris Waller, Ben Melham

Like Beach Life, finished strongly to finish fourth last time out. Can’t rule out Waller horses.

hollywoodmo15 – Hollywood Mo (6 – 35332)
Paul Perry, Stephen Baster

Only horse in the field yet to win a race.

alloutoflove16 – All Out Of Love (9 – 03×985)
David and Ben Hayes, Tom Dabernig

Hasn’t been in the finish in his last three runs. Prefer others.

peterjohn17 (first emergency) – Peter John (3 – 1×5441)
John Sargent, Michael Walker

Look elsewhere.

anaheim18 (second emergency) – Anaheim (14 – 32321)
Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young

Started favourite in four of five starts. Finally won last time out.

shinetakstar19 (third emergency) – Shine Tak Star (16 – 09541)
John Sargent, no jockey as yet

Only Derby horse to have won at the 2400m – and it was last start.

zoffman20 (fourth emergency) – Zoffman (7 – 09541)
Aaron Purcell, no jockey as yet

Needs a run. And rain. 

Luke Sheehan’s Victoria Derby selections:

1: Beach Life
2: Sacred Elixir
3: So Si Bon
4: Prized Icon

Other Group 1 Tips:

Cantala Stakes: Palentino
Coolmore Stud Stakes: Flying Artie
Myer Classic: Don’t Doubt Mamma

Luke Sheehan is a journalist at racing.com 

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