The Victoria Derby has thrown up its share of surprise results of late, but one model that has stood the test of time in relation to trying to find the winner is focussing on in-form horses.
In the past 30 years, not one winner of Australia’s oldest Classic – which will be run at Flemington this Saturday – has finished further back than fifth at its previous start.
In fact, all but two of those 30 – Redding, who was coming off a fourth placing, and Prized Icon (fifth) – had finished in the first three at their final pre-Derby start.
Even Rebel Raider, who won at $101 in 2008, was coming off a Geelong Classic third placing and Fiveandahalfstar, the $41 winner in 2012, was a last-start winner.
It’s a principal that can help us eliminate a few this year, including the $9 third favourite Extra Brut, who finished down the track as favourite last start in the Caulfield Classic. Mickey Blue Eyes, Visao, Seberate, Louie The Legend, Savvy Oak and Tolemac are the others we can put a line through using this guidance.
History also does not paint a pretty picture for those who came through the Geelong Classic.
Only three times has the Geelong Classic winner gone on to win the Derby, but none since Haymaker in 1974.
Rebel Raider and Preferment (2014) are the only Derby winners in the past 30 years to have come through the Geelong lead-up, meaning we can therefore add Home Ground, Farooq and Grinzinger Star to the list of those we are happy to work around in this year’s Derby.
Derby form students have just three final lead-up runs to consider when analysing this year’s race, with the other two races used as final Derby lead-ups being the Caulfield Classic (2000m), on October 20, and last Saturday’s Moonee Valley Vase (2040m).
Of the past 30 Derby winners, 24 had their final lead-up in either of those races. Fifteen of those 24 came through the Vase, which is reason enough to side with those coming out of last week’s race.
That might seem harsh on Thinkin’ Big, who dominantly won this year’s Caulfield Classic to cement Derby favouritism, but that has proven a millstone in recent years.
Favourites had a dream run between 2002-2006 in the Derby, winning four of the five editions, but just two have won since – Tarzino ($2.90) in 2015 and Prized Icon ($7) last year.
Whobegotyou ($1.75, second), Manawanui ($2.50, sixth), It’s A Dundeel ($2.70, seventh), Hampton Court ($2.45, seventh) and Sacred Elixir ($2.70, second) are favourites since that have been beaten at a shorter price than Thinkin’ Big’s $2.90 quote.
Along with Rebel Raider and Fiveandahalfstar, Lion Tamer ($13), Sangster ($13) and Prized Icon ($17) have all won since 2007, contributing to a an average starting price of around $19 for Derby winners in that time.
So, we’re left with the top three from the Vase – Stars Of Carrum, Savoie and Aramayo – and the middle runner’s hopes weren’t helped when he drew the second-widest gate.
Since the turn of the millennium, just four of the 18 winners have started from a double-digit gate.
Aramayo drew double digits – 10 – but will start from eight if the two emergencies don’t start, while Stars Of Carrum drew seven and will come into six.
The Verdict: Given Stars Of Carrum sits closer to the average recent Derby-winning SP, and 17 of the 30 Vase winners who have contested the Derby have run top-three, we’ll nominate him as an each-way play in the 2018 Derby.