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Derby suits Godolphin colt

Mike Hedge

A Classic for Kent and a well-deserved G1 prize for the consistent Pearls are on offer on a programme regarded as the benchmark in Australian racing at Flemington on Saturday, October 29.

The Godolphin pair come to their respective races needing to produce career-best performances if they are to win, but both carry plenty of stable confidence.

Kent (John O’Shea/James McDonald) carries the royal blue colours in the G1 Victoria Derby, a race in which his trainer is happy to confront a challenge he recognises as formidable.

“There’s no doubt he needs to step up, but he has a few things in his favour,” O’Shea said.

“He’s very fit, he loves Flemington and it’s an open Derby.

“But the big thing is, he’ll run the trip.”

O’Shea is basing much of his optimism on Kent’s fifth placing in Listed company over 1800m at Flemington earlier this month when he had little luck and only got rolling over the final 200 metres.

“The way he finished off that day suggested he’d be competitive over more ground and he’s drawn to get nice cover on Saturday,” he said.

The strongest opposition in the Derby is expected to come from last-start Moonee Valley winner Sacred Elixir, along with Swear, Prized Icon and Rocketeer.

O’Shea expressed strong confidence in the chances of Pearls, another James McDonald ride, gaining reward for her consistency when she runs over the 1600m of the G1 Myer Classic.

“Pearls looks to me to be crying out for the mile,” O’Shea said.

“She’s been very strong in her last two runs at 1400m.”

While he admits that barrier 12 won’t be ideal for the daughter of Exceed And Excel, the trainer isn’t overly-negative.

“She’s probably a little bit awkwardly drawn but that gives us the chance to come back a pair which I would want to do anyway,” he said.

Pearls ran a typically honest race at her last start when beaten only three-quarters of a length when third to First Seal, who opposes again, at Caulfield.

But it was her effort three runs back when beating Dixie Blossoms at G3 level over 1300m at Randwick that provides the strongest recommendation.