More than half a century after riding the first of two Victoria Derby winners, Pat Hyland has a realistic chance to take the Classic as a trainer.
Hyland, who saddles up Lizard Island in Saturday’s $1.5 million Derby at Flemington, rode Craftsman to win in 1963 and Silver Sharpe seven years later.
The 74-year-old still rides Lizard Island in his trackwork and has long had a big opinion of the colt.
“He’s a horse that ever since he came into the stable I had the feeling he was not just an average horse,” Hyland said.
“I thought he was a horse that would go places.
“He’s only won one race, a maiden at Pakenham, but he’s got some very good placings.”
In his past two starts Lizard Island has finished runner-up in the Group One Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and the Group Three $500,000 Caulfield Classic (2000m).
Although Hyland believes Lizard Island is a Derby type, the 2500 metres is uncharted territory for him and the others in the race.
“I dare say you don’t know until you get in the Derby, but his form has been really good and I think he deserves the chance at having a crack at it,” Hyland said.
“If he’s good enough, he’ll win. If not he’ll probably run a place or something. He’s in great order.”
Lizard Island is at $12 and Blake Shinn will be back aboard.
Shinn rode Lizard Island when he finished second in a Listed race at Flemington earlier this spring and again two starts ago in the Caulfield Guineas while Tommy Berry was aboard in the Caulfield Classic.
The Mick Price-trained Tarzino is the $2.40 favourite with Get The Picture, Kia Ora Koutou and Pay Up Bro all at $9 ahead of Geelong Classic winner Extra Choice ($11).
Hyland’s Group One wins as a trainer include a VRC Oaks with Saleous 20 years ago and an Australasian Oaks and South Australian Derby with Zarita in 2008.
Hyland prepared a Group One winner on Derby Day a year ago when Bonaria claimed the Myer Classic.
The fact he’s won the Victoria Derby as a jockey doesn’t give Hyland extra motivation to win it as a trainer.
“I don’t know that that makes a lot of difference,” he said.
“It would just be nice to win a Derby.
“Once you’ve won one, it’s behind you then.
“People can make of it what they like. It would just be lovely to win the Derby.
“Plus the money is all right.”