Busuttin takes a leaf from Bary's book for Derby Fri, 28 Oct 2011

Dennis Ryan
The Kiwi trained Sangster will have a new rider in tomorrow's VRC Derby.
The Kiwi trained Sangster will have a new rider in tomorrow's VRC Derby.
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Last week it was Jimmy Choux, this week it’s Sangster - not only flying the flag for New Zealand in the biggest Melbourne carnival race of the weekend, but doing so off the back of a below-par training gallop.

But just as John Bary did last week before Jimmy Choux gave his all in the Cox Plate, fellow young Kiwi trainer Trent Busuttin is keeping the faith that Sangster can run the race of his life in tomorrow’s A$1.5 million AAMI Victoria Derby.

Sangster, a son of 2004 Cox Plate winner Savabeel, put his hand up as a serious Derby candidate when narrowly beaten in the Gr. 3 Norman Robinson Stakes at Caulfield two weeks ago. That followed a third placing in the Gr. 1 Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick, the last of four Sydney starts that also produced a win and a second.

Sabrage, the Mike Moroney-trained colt that got up in the final strides of the Norman Robinson, and Sangster met again at Flemington on Tuesday morning. This time it was for a training gallop to keep them on track for the 2500-metre classic at the same venue tomorrow - and once again it was Sabrage who came up trumps.

Sabrage led his companion at the start of the gallop and after Sangster had worked to close the gap, Sabrage was clearly more comfortable as he finished the hitout still holding an advantage. Busuttin admits it wasn’t what he was looking for but is consoled by more than one factor.

“It wasn’t great work but it was still okay,” he said, with a final 200-metre time of 22.91 seconds at the end of searching work comparing well against others in the session. “Jimmy Choux got beaten in his gallop at Moonee Valley last week and four days later all but won the Cox Plate.

“I’m hoping it works out like something that for my horse. I couldn’t be happier with everything else about him; he’s eating up, his blood reads good, so touch wood he’ll front up in the right shape on the day.”

Busuttin, who kept his 32nd birthday low-key on Tuesday in the hope of having something to really celebrate on Saturday night, gained a confidence boost at the following day’s barrier draw when Sangster came up with gate nine at the potentially tricky 2500-metre start point.

“That’s a good spot to be in. He’ll jump from seven if the emergencies don’t get back in the field and with the favourite drawn directly inside him he should be able to follow him across before the first turn and slot in handy to the speed.”

The rival referred to by Busuttin is Sydney gelding Manawanui, who sealed favouritism with a cake-walk in last Saturday’s AAMI Vase at Moonee Valley. That form on top of his second placing to Helmet in the Caulfield Guineas and three from three in the best Sydney class earlier this spring single Manawanui out as something special. The query is a pedigree that points to shorter distances than tomorrow’s stamina test and Busuttin for one is looking elsewhere at a bigger danger.

“Manawanui might be suspect at the trip but with none of them having run that far I suppose they all are,” he says. “The horse to beat is Mike Moroney’s. He ran the 2000 metres right out in the Norman Robinson and I’ve got to respect him after that work the other morning.

“Mike knows what it takes to win this race too,” he added in reference to VRC Derby successes by the Moroney-trained Second Coming and Monaco Consul

“The one advantage my horse does have over Sabrage (16) is the draw, and that goes for some of the other fancied runners who are also drawn wide. If we can take a position and be there starting the run home, they might have the job ahead of them.”

The jockey with the task of giving Sangster his best chance is Hugh Bowman, replacing James McDonald who has been on the gelding in three spring starts that have produced a win, a second and a third. Unfortunately for the young Kiwi ace, the last of those was in the Norman Robinson when Sangster was run down in the shadows of the post after dashing clear before the home turn.

“The owners talked it over and ultimately it was their decision,” said Busuttin. “In the end they opted for someone with the experience in this sort of race.”

Bowman of course won last year’s VRC Derby on another Cambridge three-year-old, Lion Tamer, who broke down so tragically when pulling up at the end of the Cox Plate last Saturday.

The VRC Derby will be a whole new experience for Busuttin, whose father Paddy - now based in Macau - has won the blue riband classic in New Zealand, Singapore and Macau, but never in Australia.

“It’s a big challenge but I’m happy to be given the chance,” said the younger Busuttin. “It started to sink in when I was sitting between Mike Moroney and Mick Price at the barrier draw media conference.

“I just hope they’re still wanting to interview me after the race.”    


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