Sabrage emerged as a Victoria Derby contender when Damien Oliver gave the colt a well-judged ride to win the Group Three Norman Robinson Stakes at Caulfield.
A half-brother to recent Group One Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) runner-up Pinnacles, Sabrage was stepping up to 2000m for the first time at his fifth start following a solid third to Chase The Rainbow in the Group Two Bill Stutt Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley.
Oliver had Sabrage ($9) well placed in fifth spot in the run and wore down Spring Champion Stakes placegetter Sangster ($5.50) to score by a long head with Niagara ($3.50 fav), who was held up badly for a run on the home turn, running on well to be 1-1/4 lengths away third.
“It was a lovely ride aided by a nice draw (barrier three),” trainer Mike Moroney, who trained Sabrage’s dam Galroof, a Queensland Derby and Doomben Cup runner-up, said.
“I wouldn’t have picked him as a Derby horse. We really thought he was our Caulfield Guineas horse and it was the Stutt Stakes that changed our minds.
“Being by Charge Forward we thought he might struggle to stay, but he’s certainly got a stayer’s action.”
Moroney has won the Victoria Derby twice before with Second Coming and Monaco Consul and rated Sabrage as more like Second Coming who he said was pretty tough.
“This horse here is a pretty mature type. He won a race at two and he’s really handled the preparation,” he said.
“He’s a really laid-back colt. We were surprised he won first-up at 1200 metres because he was pretty dumb about the whole thing, but just won it on ability and now he’s starting to really switch on and he’s had the right preparation (to go to the Derby).”
Oliver was quite impressed with the colt on Saturday.
“Sangster really stole what looked to be a winning break so he did a good job to overhaul him,” he said.
“He ran out the 2000 metres quite strong today. It (the Derby) is another 500 metres so it’s not going to be an easy task but it appears to be a reasonably open race so he is as good a chance as any.”
Sabrage and Sangster are both at $11 with TAB Sportsbet for the $1.5 million Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on October 29.
Caulfield Guineas runner-up Manawanui is $5.50 favourite ahead of Niagara at $6.50.