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New Zealand trained Pinarello has won a thrilling Queensland Derby at his Australian debut

Pinarello, trained by Roger James and Robert Wellwood, was having his first start in Australia after missing a key lead up run in the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2143m) at Eagle Farm two weeks ago.

A mild temperature spike and heavy ground saw Pinarello go five weeks since winning the Group 2 Trelawney Stud Stakes (2100m) in impressive fashion at Pukekohe, but his toughness shone through late after taking the lead early in the straight and fighting off Paternal by a head.

Co-trainer Roger James was full of praise for jockey Leith Innes, who notched up his 25th Group 1 winner.

“It was an inspired ride. I felt we could win it with the right ride and we got the right ride,” James said.

Missing a lead up run may have been a blessing in disguise, with James suggesting Pinarello races well fresh.

“I thought it was of benefit to be honest. On Rough Habit morning, I thought we were going to run on an inevitably bad track. He has been a weak, frail horse this whole preparation. He’d been seven weeks prior to his last win and that was quite spectacular that day,” James said.

Leith Innes praised the horse’s toughness after hitting the front early in the straight.

“It’s just great to win, I’ve been away from home for over five weeks now… I was just bolting when I got to the top of the straight and I was like ‘I’m there too soon’ but knowing how good the horse is, he really lifted the last 50 (metres),” Innes said.

This was a breakthrough win for the stable in Australia, having won five derbies back home but only managed placings in both the Queensland and ATC Derbies in the past.

“To win one in Australia is pretty special.”

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