Cambridge trainer Roger James is hoping a win in a Rating 65 2100 metres at Te Rapa on Saturday will be enough to sneak Delago’s Secret into the Gr.1 $750,000 TV3 NZ Derby.
James is still rueing the fact Delago’s Secret didn’t make the field for last Saturday’s Gr. 2 Darci Brahma Waikato Guineas. The son of Encosta de Lago was left one on the ballot for the feature won by Puccini.
“I was gutted when he didn’t get in the field,” said James. “I worked him at 7.30am after I found out he hadn’t made it and his work was enormous. Then the next day, the horse he beat at Matamata came out and won at Taranaki.
“I honestly believe he would have been a big chance last Saturday. He’s a well above average horse and the way he won at Matamata he wants to stay.”
Most candidates for the March 1 NZ Derby will be competing in the Gr. 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie on Saturday week but James can’t afford to take the chance and wait for the $100,000 race as Delago’s Secret could again end up on the ballot list.
“We’ve got to go this Saturday and hope he can win it,” said James. “If he does it will be straight into the Derby.”
Delagos’ Secret began his career chasing home Chambord over 1200 metres at Gisborne last September and he was also placed in two of his next three starts before appreciating the step up to 1600 metres at Matamata on January 17. In that latest event he beat Bo Duke by a long head and was doing his work nicely over the final stages.
Delago’s Secret is one of three horses James has in the NZ Derby nominations and is currently sitting 30th equal in order of entry. A win on Saturday, along with the usual number of dropouts, could see him sneak into the Derby field.
Stablemate Full Count is also in the same group 30th equal on the list while James’ other entrant, Aranmore, is well down the list and is a maiden with a couple of placings from three starts.
If Delago’s Secret does get into the Derby field he must be considered, especially on James’ record in the classic.
James has saddled up the winner of the New Zealand Derby on four occasions. He first won it in 1995 with Roysyn when training in partnership with Ross Taylor, then two years later he scored with Zonda, whom he prepared with Lance Noble.
His third NZ Derby win came in 1999 Hades on own account and two years ago the filly Silent Achiever proved too classy for her opposition in Ellerslie’s major three-year-old event.
- The Informant