Kerrin McEvoy is hoping impressive Geelong Classic winner Induna is the horse to break his frustrating run of five Victoria Derby placings in Saturday’s $1.5 million feature at Flemington.
But he fears race favourite Manawanui will be very tough to beat.
“He (Induna) was fantastic at Geelong and he’s pulled up well,” McEvoy said.
“He obviously goes up to another level with Manawanui but I’m confident we can run in the first three.
“He pleased me this morning with some nice work over a bit of ground.
“He just keeps excelling underneath you and he built up nicely and rounded it off in good style.”
The gelding was a late entry for an $82,500 fee for the Derby on the strength of his impressive 3-1/2-length victory over Derby rivals Cornell and Perfect Punch in the Listed Geelong Classic (2200m) last Wednesday.
“He’s an Elusive Quality and he sort of tricked us a little bit. He wasn’t showing a lot and then with blinkers on he went boom,” McEvoy said.
“His (6-1/4 length) win at Gosford was fantastic in a maiden and he improved more for his last win in the Geelong Classic.
“I like the horse, he’s heading in the right direction at the right time of the year.
“But Manawanui is the benchmark though, if he runs the trip out you’d almost say the race is all but over.
“One thing I know with my horse is he is definitely going to run the trip and he’s got a touch of class about him.”
Group One Golden Rose (1400m) winner Manawanui has impressed in his two Melbourne runs, finishing runner-up to Helmet in the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and then easily winning the Mitchelton Wines Vase (2040m) at Moonee Valley last Saturday.
Glyn Schofield rode the Ron Leemon-trained Manawanui quietly early in the Vase and the gelding indicated he would get the 2500m Derby trip as he settled so well.
“Ridden similarly he’s going to be very hard to toss in the Derby,” McEvoy said of Manawanui.
McEvoy has had seven rides in the Derby for five placings – seconds on Hydrometer (beaten a short half-head) in 2002, Kempinsky in 2003 and Duelled in 2005 and thirds aboard Terenaba in 2006 and Retrieve in 2010.
Final acceptances for the Derby are at 10am (AEDT) on Wednesday with the barrier draw at 12 noon.
Manawanui is $2.25 favourite with TAB Sportsbet ahead of Induna at $5.50, Niagara at $7 and Sangster at $11 with Norman Robinson Stakes winner Sabrage at $14.