Danny Nikolic may have found his mount for the Victoria Derby in the form of Isopach, winner of the Listed UCI Stakes at Flemington.
The Patinack Farm-owned three-year-old made sharp improvement stepping up to 1800 metres for the first time on Sunday and was strong at the finish.
He scored by 1-1/2 lengths from the grey Eagle Command, who was also an eye-catching run, and Costly Commitment.
Nikolic said Isopach was a developing stayer and he was impressed with how he had improved with experience.
“He is a nice horse who might get to the Derby,” Nikolic said.
“Last time in he was bit of head case and light in the mouth but he is a lovely horse and he is maturing all the time.”
Isopach was having his ninth start on Sunday and had shown promise winning the Listed Oaklands Plate (1600m) in Adelaide on April 30 and placing third in the Listed Gibson Carmichael Stakes (1600m) at Flemington in May.
He was third up this campaign in the UCI after finishing last in the Henry Bucks (1400m) at Flemington and seventh of 10 in the Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m).
“My instructions were to go back today and …he was three deep with cover,” Nikolic said.
“He travelled into race very good from the 600 metres to the top of the straight and while he hit the front too early (at the 200 metres) he held on very strongly.
“He’s got the right attitude (for the Derby) and is a nice horse going forward.”
Isopach was midfield when he shouldered his way past Eagle Command but the Gary Portelli-trained son of Dash For Cash was only having his third race start and could be one to follow.
Isopach put four lengths on Eagle Command in the straight but the grey significantly whittled the margin back the last 200 metres.
The Victoria Derby(2500m) is run at Flemington on October 29.