A comprehensive victory against the older horses at Ellerslie on Saturday is likely to result in three-year-old Vladivostok taking his place in the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) in a fortnight.
If confirmed, it would see trainer Andrew Campbell and the colt’s ownership group, headed by breeder Tommy Heptinstall, with three distinct chances in the race as stable and ownership mates Tibetan and Peloton are also set for the $1 million feature.
Vladivostok earned his shot at age-group glory with a gritty win in a rating 65 2100m contest at Ellerslie where he dispatched his older rivals, courtesy of an A-plus effort by rider Lisa Allpress.
Allpress secured a beautiful run in the trail on a solid speed before issuing her challenge early in the run home. Vladivostok dashed to a clear lead before comfortably holding off all challenges in a time of 2.11.87 for the journey which was over a second quicker than Dragon Leap ran to win the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas over the same distance two races earlier.
Campbell was full of praise for the effort and the ride by Allpress.
“It was his first run over a distance so I was thrilled by the ride by Lisa as she gave him every possible chance,” Campbell said.
“We changed a little bit of gear on him as we took off the tongue tie and side winkers and that worked well as he settled pretty well in the trail and was very strong in the run home.
“He’s bred to get a trip but you never quite know until they have a go at it so to see him run it out that strongly was just great and I think he will now take his place in the Derby.
“I will have a chat with Tommy just to confirm it but, in all likelihood, we will have three in the race with Tibetan and Peloton confirmed as well.”
Campbell believes that Shocking gelding Tibetan is currently his number one seed in the Derby following a strong performance for fourth behind Dragon Leap on Saturday.
“He (Tibetan) went a very good race and he is going to relish going 2400m in the Derby,” he said.
“He ran on strongly in behind them and was strong through the line so as a Derby trial it was very good.
“I’ve always thought he would be at his best once he got up to a trip like this so we will find that out in a fortnight.”
Campbell has yet to confirm riders for his three Derby runners although he is hopeful that Leith Innes will stick with Tibetan after riding him on Saturday.
Innes was suspended for seven riding days for careless riding on Platinum Invador, runner-up in the Gr.2 Joe McDonald Avondale Cup (2400m), but will return on Derby Day.
“We don’t have riders confirmed as yet but I’m hoping Leith will stay with Tibetan,” he said.
“Lisa can’t ride Vladivostok as she will be away in Saudi Arabia at the Jockeys’ Challenge she is riding in so we need to get a replacement for him and also one for Peloton.
“We will sort that out over the next few days but I would like to think that there will be a fair few putting their hands up for a ride in a race like the Derby.”