Ten of Australia’s top three-year-old stayers will step out over the 2400m at Ascot on Saturday to contest the $320,000 Group 2 WATC Derby.
All eyes will be on the short-priced favourite Tuscan Queen following her dominant display in the Oaks as William Pike hopes to earn a Derby three-peat.
We’ve analysed the entire race and our complete WATC Derby Preview can be viewed below!
Red Hot Tip
Red Hot Tip has won two from five this prep and has shown continued signs of improvement throughout. The gelding by Red Hot Choice was a last start winner in the Listed Melvista Stakes in a dominant front-running performance and has stripped fitter ahead of his first assignment over the 2400m. He maps well to lead from barrier 3 and has placed in all of his last four starts. Did tire late in the Melvista, but definite each-way claims.
Midnight Blue is another of the main threats to the favourite Tuscan Queen. The son of So You Think was one of the back markers in the Melvista Stakes but enjoyed a gun run off the rails to finish strongly behind Red Hot Tip. Midnight Blue won his maiden three starts back and has placed in back-to-back starts now at Ascot. The only knock is the top weight and the fact he’s been up since December.
Criminal Code came off the fence to run a gutsy third in the Melvista Stakes. He figures to settle just off the speed again on Saturday and has drawn an identical barrier stepping up to the 2400m for the first time. Place chances look his best hope.
William Pike had the magic touch on the push button filly in the WA Oaks winning comfortably by two lengths. Tuscan Queen has been installed as the short-priced favourite again on Saturday and will take some serious beating from barrier 2 resuming over the 2400m. She’s only improved stepping up in trip and, barring a botch job from Pike, looks poised to hand the Wizard a Derby three-peat.
Naughty By Nature
Naughty By Nature laid in for second in the Oaks behind the favourite Tuscan Queen and has been installed as the second-elect in Derby betting. Jockey Clint Johnston-Porter got on the back of William Pike and found himself with clear running room down the straight. Naughty By Nature maps similarly to follow that pattern again in the Derby and should take improvement with a run under her belt over the 2400m.
Pambella is resuming over the distance after running a luckless seventh in the Oaks with jockey Steven Parnham on board. The pair went forward with 600m left to go but were swallowed up over the final furlong by the favourites. Parnham can likely stalk the speed a little more patiently this time around from barrier 5 and if he can uncover the turn of foot we saw from Pambella two starts back in the Natasha Stakes, she does look good money for a place.
Miss Dominican battled on for third in the Oaks and could figure in the finish again with some clear running room down the straight. The filly won her maiden four starts back at Ascot over 1500m and went one better two starts later stepping up to the 1800m. She’s placed in four of her five starts this prep and could benefit from Ascot specialist Brad Parnham in the saddle.
Cambist is having her fourth run back from a spell and like many others is stepping up to the distance for the first time. She’s had a break between starts after running fourth in the Listed Natasha Stakes (2200m) three weeks ago where she was among the beaten favourites. Could factor in the finish from the inside alley.
Samantha’s Twitch has plenty of racing under her belt but only one win to her name so far. She finished well for fourth in the Oaks but remains one of the outsiders in the field.
The lightly raced Showaddywaddy struggled with the distance in the Oaks after running third in a 2200m Handicap race a fortnight prior. She won her maiden over 2219m at Bunbury back in March but has placed only once in three appearances at Ascot.