Extra Choice has raced his way into Victoria Derby calculations with a strong staying performance to win the Geelong Classic.
Sporting blinkers for the first time, Extra Choice posted a comprehensive win in the 2200m Listed race on Wednesday.
Ridden by Ben Melham, Extra Choice ($12) scored by three-quarters of a length over Jadeer ($8) with favourite Pay Up Bro ($3.60) the same margin away third.
Extra Choice had his price trimmed from $18 to $12 for the Derby at Flemington on October 31 following Wednesday’s win.
Co-trainer David Hayes said Extra Choice appreciated a step up in distance and the addition of blinkers helped the horse concentrate on his job.
Hayes won’t be tinkering with Extra Choice’s gear again ahead of the Derby, which the trainer will be striving to win for the third time following the victories of Blevic in 1994 and Kibbutz in 2007.
“You don’t change the bowler if they’re getting wickets,” Hayes said.
“He’ll definitely run in the Derby and he’ll definitely have blinkers on and in recent years the trial (Geelong Classic) hasn’t been a bad guide.”
Last year’s Derby winner Preferment ran second to Nozomi in the Classic and is regarded as a genuine chance in Saturday’s Cox Plate and next month’s Melbourne Cup.
Hayes praised Melham’s ride on Extra Choice, a son of champion sire Redoute’s Choice.
The win was a boost for the jockey who lost the spring mount on Ragnaar who started one of the favourites in the Geelong Classic and finished fourth.
“I lost a Derby ride along the way and hopefully I’ve gained one there,” Melham said.
“He’ll handle the distance rise.
“The most impressive part was how strong he was after the line.”