Tuesday, 7 August 2007
: Though the 2006 running has hardly proven to be a vintage renewal, the AJC Derby remains the most reliable Classic race on the Australian calendar.
Photo by Bronwen Healy
This reliability is in terms of both the class of the placegetters and their future deeds on the racetrack.
To underline the quality of horses that win the AJC Derby, of the last 25 runnings, 16 winners have later gone on to win at least another Group 1 race.
As a guide, the race deemed to be Australia’s greatest – the W.S. Cox Plate – has exactly the same record over the same period of time.
Another indicator of the AJC Australian Derby quality is the fact that from the past 20 years, eight of the Australian Horse of the Year winners (nine if you count Might And Power’s second win) ran in the Derby.
Adding even further merit are those horses that weren’t quite up to winning at Randwick.
The efforts of the placegetters subsequent to the Derby is something also worth beholding.
A couple of Caulfield Cups, two Australian Cups, Tie The Knot’s 10 Group 1 wins and Saintly’s Cox Plate/Melbourne Cup double add further weight to the argument of this being Australia’s greatest event for three-year-olds.
With Phar Lap and Tulloch on the honour roll, every owner and trainer of a three-year-old that shows even a shred of staying potential, wants to join the elite club.
From 1979, when the great Dulcify won on protest, the Derby went through a golden age, with winners including Kingston Town, Strawberry Road, Bonecrusher, Beau Zam, Naturalism and Mahogany each enjoying the status of Australia’s best horse at some stage of their careers.
But since Octagonal won the epic 1996 Derby, it’s fair to say that no winner since has enjoyed such public adulation.
Sky Heights, Fairway, Universal Prince and Starcraft promised to rise to that lofty status, but none of them were able to take that next giant leap.
That’s not to say that Derby winners since Octagonal have been disappointing.
Of the 10, six attained further Group 1 success, while Fairway conquered the champ Sunline in the G2 Turnbull (now G1) before drawing the carpark and running bravely for third in the Caulfield Cup.
But such is the status of the AJC Derby, anything but conquering the very best races is deemed to be falling short of the example set by those that preceded them.
Headturner was a huge disappointment during the spring, but any fair thinking person would realize he simply failed to ‘come up’ and hopefully with the benefit of a good spell, the son of Anabaa can return to his best form.
Eremein has overcome all sorts of adversity to rise to the top and this time last year he was being hailed as potentially Australia’s next champion galloper, following three Group 1 wins on end.
Unfortunately injury ended his spring ambitions.
Starcraft was long-time favourite for the 2004 Cox Plate, but had to settle for third when Savabeel
turned in a career best performance.
Starcraft however went on to prove himself a most worthy Derby winner.
Like Mahogany a decade earlier, subsequent events showed that Starcraft’s ‘pet’ distance was well below 2400m.
His two G1 successes in Europe over a mile elevated his world standing and pointed out the courage the powerful chestnut showed to stick his neck out at the end of the Randwick 12 furlongs.
So although a truly great horse has not won the Derby for some time, the attached tables show that quality still runs hand in hand with this classic.
Usually by this time of the season, a number of horses have shown their hand for Derby honours.
But this season looks a trifle different, with no real standouts to the beginning of March.
But don’t be fooled, chances are the winner will prove a truly outstanding horse and those that finish on his heels will be no slouches either.
For that is the AJC Derby – one of Australian racing’s time-honoured treasures.
Placegetters (since 1990) to Win G1 Race/s
|Horse ||G1 Win?||Best Win/Run|
|Headturner ||No || Still racing|
|Eremein ||Yes || BMW|
|Starcraft ||Yes || Newmarket QEII Stakes|
|Clangalang ||Yes || Epsom|
|Don Eduardo ||No || 3rd Australian Cup|
|Universal Prince ||Yes || Ranvet Stakes|
|Fairway ||No || WON G2 Turnbull Stakes, 3rd Cfld Cup|
|Sky Heights ||Yes || Caulfield Cup|
|Gold Guru ||No || 2nd Turnbull|
|Ebony Grosve ||Yes || Mackinnon|
|Octagonal ||Yes || Mercedes Classic|
|Ivory’s Irish ||No || WON G2 Theo Marks|
|Mahogany ||Yes || Lightning Stakes (x2)|
|Innocent King ||No || WON G3 Eclipse Stakes|
|Naturalism ||Yes || Caulfield Stakes|
|Durbridge ||Yes || Australian Cup|
|Dr. Grace ||Yes || Underwood Stakes|
|Research ||Yes || AJC Oaks*|
|Beau Zam ||Yes ||Segenhoe Stakes|
|Myocard ||No ||2nd Sydney Cup|
|Bonecrusher ||Yes ||Cox Plate|
|Tristarc ||Yes ||Caulfield Cup|
|Prolific ||No ||WON G2 Craiglee|
|Strawberry Road ||Yes ||Cox Plate|
|Rose Of Kingston ||No ||Won G2 Craiglee|
Horses of The Year (last 20 years) to run in AJC Derby
|Horse||Best Win after AJC Derby|
|Mummify|| Caulfield Cup|
|Shogun Lodge|| Epsom Handicap|
|Tie The Knot|| 10 x G1 races, incl 2 x Mercedes Classic|
|Intergaze|| Australian Cup|
|Saintly|| Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate|
|Filante|| Epsom Handicap|
|Danewin || Caulfield Stakes|
|Veandercross|| Australian Cup|
|Stylish Century|| Queen Elizebeth Stakes|
Might And Power (twice), Saintly, Octagonal, Mahogany, Veandercross, Research, Beau Zam, Bonecrusher