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Derby hopes on show in Australia

Mike Hedge

The strength and depth of Godolphin’s Australian three-year-olds is set to be made clear on more than one level with the running of the G1 Caulfield Guineas in Melbourne and the G1 Spring Champion Stakes in Sydney on Saturday, October 8.

Impending (John O’Shea/James McDonald) has emerged as the horse to beat in the Guineas where he represents the stable’s strength at the middle distances.

“Impending will be heading off to Melbourne on Wednesday night because we’ve decided that it’s preferable to keep them at home at Osborne Park for as long as we can,” said Godolphin’s Managing Director in Australia Henry Plumptre.

“His last few gallops have all been in the left-handed Melbourne direction and he’s handled it without any problem, so we’re not too concerned about that aspect.

“Everyone has seen what he’s capable of, both when he was placed behind our top colt Astern and when he had the race to himself in the Stan Fox Stakes. We’re very happy with the horse and not concerned at all that he’s drawn a bit wide.”

While Impending is unlikely to go much further this Spring, the stable is well-represented in the G1 Victoria Derby at Flemington on October 29 with eight colts still holding entries for the classic.

Two of that group – Honeywine and Retaliation – run in the Spring Champion Stakes.

Honeywine (John O’Shea/Brenton Avdulla) has shown good staying potential this time in, particularly at his latest outing when second to Valadero over the 1800m of the Gloaming Stakes earlier this month.

Retaliation (John O’Shea/Tim Clark) finished fourth in the same race in what was another solid effort that suggested he would have no problem with the extra 200m on Saturday, nor with the 2500m of the Derby.

“Both colts are among the stables more prominent Derby candidates and both are in great form. Honeywine looks like an out-and-out stayer who will be well-suited by the extra ground,” Plumptre said.

Honeywine is by the ill-fated Street Cry while Retaliation is by Bernardini whose best Australian runner has been the G1-winning miler Boban.

The remaining Godolphin stakes runners for the weekend all appear at Caulfield, led off by the unraced juvenile Platinum in the Listed Debutant Stakes followed by Angharad in the G3 Thoroughbred Club Stakes, Chetwood in the Listed Weekend Hussler Stakes and Furnaces in the G2 Schillaci Stakes, all to be ridden by James McDonald.

“Angharad is first-up but has pleased us in her work and she’s shown that she can perform well fresh,” Plumptre said.

“Furnaces ran into a very good field at Moonee Valley and finished a nice second when he resumed. All those who finished around him have run well again and he’s trialled very well since.

“He’s a horse who has raced in good company all his life and has never run poorly.”