Ace High dominates to win AAMI Victoria Derby at Flemington
The David Payne-trained Ace High was the dominant winner of Saturday’s 163rd running of the AAMI Victoria Derby at Flemington Racecourse, near Melbourne, Australia.
This year’s renewal was considered to be something of an open event, but it was won by the only Group 1 winner in the field as jockey Tye Angland saw the three-year-old colt to success which was not without its alarm.
Horse and jockey had to overcome a nightmare run three wide around the iconic Flemington turn, but after finding a gap they took their chance to the full and blew the field away in the final 200 metres to take out the Group 1 $1.5 million contest.
Angland even had time to salute to the Flemington track in the run to the line after streaking away to win by more than a length. Despite having to deal with running wide at the turn, Ace High was never troubled down the straight, finishing well clear of Sully in second and Astoria in third.
Angland’s dream run gave trainer Payne his first Group 1 win at Flemington and his first Derby triumph.
Widely regarded as one of the most prestigious days of racing in Australasia, AAMI Victoria Derby Day features a card of nine Group races, with four at the elite Group 1 level. The feature Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby, worth over AU$1.51 million, is Australia’s premier staying classic for three year olds and the last chance for horses to qualify for this Tuesday’s $6.2million Emirates Melbourne Cup.
The Lexus Stakes is arguably the biggest prize on Derby Day for despite being only worth $300,000 compared to the $1.5million AAMI Victoria Derby, a place into Tuesday’s showpiece race was again up for grabs.
And not for the first time, a Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained horse took the prize as Cismontane dominated under Stephen Baster’s riding. A field of 10 runners went to post for the contest over one mile and four and half furlongs, and Cismontane just held off the challenges of Geelong Cup winner Vengeur Masque and Pentathlon in second and third respectively.
The Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes was an equally close contest which in the end saw jockey Mark Zahra guide Merchant Navy to victory. The six furlong sprint saw the Aaron Purcell-trained horse get the decision by a head from Invincible Star in second and Formality in third
The Kennedy Mile continued that pattern of close finishes as the Chris Waller-trained Shillelagh, ridden by Michael Dee, won by a head from Tom Melbourne in second. Wyndspelle was third trailing the leading pair by two and three-quarter lengths.
The Group One Myer Classic for three year old fillies and mares saw an even closer finish as Dean Yendall guided Shoals to victory. Run over a mile, the Anthony Freedman-trained horse justified the tag as race favourite but only took the win by a short head from Eckstein in second and Dixie Blossoms in third.