Cranbourne trainer Shawn Mathrick has long thought he has a potential Victoria Derby winner in Ayers Rock and that opinion certainly hasn’t wavered.
“I said to the boys I’ll win the Derby with this horse. I said he can run a trip and he’s a magnificent stayer,” Mathrick said.
Ayers Rock put his Derby claims on show in Sunday’s Listed UCI Stakes at Flemington when he produced a strong performance to win the 1800m race for three-year-olds by 1-1/4 lengths.
“I’ve spruiked this horse from the day we broke him in,” Mathrick said.
“When I broke him in and started working him he just had a magnificent gait on him. I said, if this horse can gallop, with the gait he’s got he’ll be hard to beat in the Derby.
“And that was before we raced him. It’s coming to fruition.”
Ayers Rock landed his second win at his ninth start with his other victory in a 2000m maiden at Mildura in early August.
The colt by Nicconi went into Sunday’s race after a last-start second in the Listed Morphettville Guineas (1600m).
Ayers Rock went to the front for veteran jockey Darren Gauci and responded strongly over the final 200m after being challenged from the top of the straight by runner-up Tivaci.
Alkaashef came in another half length away third.
Gauci has not won a Victoria Derby and rates Ayers Rock a live chance.
He said the colt was still learning to settle.
“He wouldn’t have taken a sit today with me. It would have been too much of a fight. But once he gets into a rhythm he’ll keep going all day,” Gauci said.
“I’m just happy to be on this horse, I’m excited. I think we’ve got a real live chance in the Derby.”