If a trainer is ever destined to win a Derby, Mick Price believes he’s the one and is pinning his hopes on Moonovermanhattan following his distance test at Moonee Valley.
Tested beyond 1600 metres for the first time, Moonovermanhattan ($6) showed he was a stayer in the making in the Group Two Vase (2040m) when he beat Atmosphere ($4.80) by 1-3/4 lenghts with Go Indy Go ($6.50) finishing strongly for third, another short neck away.
“I’ve finished second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth in the Derby. I’ve got one spot to go,” Price said.
“We were going to ride him cold but after the scratchings we decided to go forward.
“It’s the first time over a distance for all these three-year-olds and it was a very strong win.
“He will go to the Derby next week now and he has to be a winning chance.”
On-pace runner Duccio, Gouldian and Miss Interiors were all non-starters.
Moonovermanhattan’s jockey Craig Newitt, who combined with Price on Friday night to celebrate the return to the Group One winners’ circle of Lankan Rupee in the Manikato Stakes, said the colt had the right attitude for the Derby distance.
“He’s a big strong colt and the further he goes the better he’ll be,” Newitt said.
“He’s very relaxed. We sat outside the leader today and his best attribute is that he’s got a good little turn of foot. So it’s onwards and upwards to the Derby.
“He’s going to be one of very few that’s going to have a turn of foot and he’ll run it right out.”
Trainer Trent Busuttin, who won the 2011 Victoria Derby with Sangster, said Atmosphere would head to the classic but he wasn’t oozing confidence and named Spring Champion Stakes winner Hampton Court as the one to beat.
“My horse has natural improvement but I wanted to see him win and win well today,” Busuttin said.
“I’m not walking in there thinking he is the winner. Hampton Court is the one to beat but I think Atmosphere is atop five, even top three chance.
“But the winner beat us fair and square today.”
Go Indy Go set herself up for the Oaks with her effort which pleased her trainer Leon Macdonald, although he would rather she had won.
“On that run I think she will go to the Oaks,” he said.
The filly’s rider Chad Schofield was happy with her relaxed nature.
“I’m really happy with her heading towards the Oaks,” Schofield said.
“She relaxed well, hit a bit of a flat spot but then motored to the line and was strong through the line.”
“She’ll relax and be hard to beat in the Oaks.”