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Image: Steve Hart
Derby star Hitotsu can improve again towards the Spring according to trainer

Ciaron Maher says that Hitotsu can raise the bar even higher and improve even further in 2022.

In the aftermath of winning the Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on Saturday, and becoming the third horse since 1979 to notch a winning double after claiming the Victoria Derby (2500m) in the springtime prior, Maher believes that there’s even more to come from the already highly valuable colt.

As unusual as that feat is, also claiming the Group 1 Australian Guineas over 1600 metres has added to the mystique around the son of Japanese stallion Maurice.

“He’s got quite a bit improvement left,” Maher told SENTrack.

“He was immature, and he has matured from the spring until now and he can make the same improvement again.”

With the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) the main aim, the leading Victorian trainer is open to other ideas, even as far as two miles.

“His main target will be the Cox Plate. It’s an iconic race but distance and pressure-wise it will suit him.

“And the Melbourne Cup wouldn’t be out of the question.

“He has a broad spectrum of what he can do and that is evident this preparation.

TAB rates Hitotsu the $8 third favourite for the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley behind Zaaki ($6) and Anamoe ($7).

The ownership group has indicated interest in taking on the Japan Cup with a good performance enhancing the colt’s stud value even more.

The last Australian-trained galloper to travel to Tokyo for the Japan Cup was Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time in 2017 finishing 13th with a Timeform rating of 117

While a Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup could be within Hitotsu’s grasp, Racing And Sports expert Adam Blencowe believes that even more star power will be required if the trip was to occur.

“There is no race in Australia further than 1200 metres that has consistently taken as much winning as the modern Japan Cup,” Adam says.

“With a rating of 120, Hitotsu looks a lot more like a Japan Cup fourth of fifth placing than a likely winner but he has rewarded optimism to this point and it would take the ultimate pessimist to say that he can’t continue to spiral upwards.”

With four wins in eight starts, Hitotsu has earned more than AU$3.1 million in prizemoney.

 
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