Darren Weir’s first Victoria Derby runner has come up trumps with Extra Brut winning the blue riband in a superior display of stamina with favourite Thinkin’ Big unplaced and out of the Melbourne Cup.
The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Thinkin’ Big captured punters attention at $2.90 but never looked the likely winner with Extra Brut ($10) storming home down the outside on Saturday to beat Stars Of Carrum, ($18) by a length with Chapada ($16) another two lengths third.
The 2500 metres took its toll on a few of the runners including Seberate and Grinzinger Star who were leading pair down the back straight.
Extra Brut’s swarm of owners, who now include Aquis Farm, and Weir heaped praise on jockey John Allen, an Irish jumps jockey who linked with Victoria’s leading trainer two years ago.
“It’s a real team effort,” Weir said.
“It’s great that the owners stuck solid with Johnny. It shows what class of a rider he is.
“They all work hard at home, but out of all the jockeys he works extra hard.
“He’s there every day doing the trackwork and helping us out. It’s great for him to be a part of it. I’m rapt.”
Allen has won many races for Weir including two South Australian Derbys and several over the jumps but none more prestigious than Saturday’s race.
“He rounded them up in a matter of strides,” he said.
“I thought I got to the front way too soon but all credit to him, he toughed it out. Unbelievable.
“He was disappointing last time (Caulfield Classic) but back on a firmer track today and a truer tempo, everything fell into our hands today and I let the horse do the rest.”
Allen moved to the other side of the world to try to revive his career.
“I couldn’t get a ride back home, plain and simple,” he said.
“I desired to travel a bit and I ended up at Darren Weir’s. It just kicked off from there.”
Before becoming the prolific trainer he is, Weir made his name with jumpers and staying horses highlighted by Prince Of Penzance’s Melbourne Cup win in 2015.
He said there was a difference training a three-year-old stayer rather than the older more experienced horses which made the Derby satisfying.
“The three-year-olds are harder,” he said.
“They can fall to pieces at any time.”
Thinkin’ Big was the only three-year-old left in the Melbourne Cup at the most recent acceptance stage before Saturday, but to take his place he had to win the Derby.
The Waterhouse-trained 1995 Derby winner Nothin’ Leica Dane went on to run second in the Cup but this year’s plan was out the window early.
Bott was forgiving.
“He has had a long campaign,” he said.
“Tim (Clark) said he didn’t feel extremely comfortable and didn’t have the tempo to suit.”
Both Chapada’s jockey James McDonald and his trainer Mike Moroney were adamant he should have won,
“He’s a star in the making,” McDonald said.
“He’s got any amount of ability and he should have won today.”
Moroney was even more forthright.
“He was pretty unlucky. It’s a bit hard to take,”Moroney said.
“He just tried to get on the back of Thinkin’ Big and he didn’t take him anywhere and then get got shut out of a gap going back to the inside and lost his momentum.”