New Zealand trainer Trent Busuttin says Victoria Derby winner Sangster must regain his form of last spring in the Alister Clark Stakes at Moonee Valley to keep his Australian Derby hopes alive.
Busuttin was at a loss to explain the poor performance of the three-year-old when he finished second last in the Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington two weeks ago but hasn’t given up hope that he can bounce back in Friday night’s 2040-metre feature.
“He was definitely very disappointing last start,” Busuttin said.
“He obviously wasn’t a winning chance second-up but we would have liked to see him running on.”
Busuttin said the run was reminiscent of Sangster’s performance in the Gloaming Stakes in Sydney last spring when he finished a tiring eighth.
At his next start he finished third in the Spring Champion Stakes and then second in the Norman Robinson Stakes before winning the Victoria Derby.
“We couldn’t find anything wrong with him after the Australian Guineas, we are just putting it down to just one of those days,” Busuttin said.
“He has done it before in Sydney where he threw in a bad one out of the blue then bounced back and we are just hoping that he will do the same on Friday night.
“I can’t fault him. He’s galloped well, worked well and I’m happy with his condition but he really has to run in the first three in the Alister Clark to justify getting up to Sydney for the (Rosehill) Guineas and Derby.”
Sangster has been punished for his form lapse in betting markets and TAB Sportsbet has listed him as one of the Alister Clark outsiders at $17.
Battling it out at the top of the chart are other Australian Guineas runners Proliferate ($4.20) who was seventh and Highly Recommended (fifth) and Victoria Derby third placegetter Sabrage (sixth) who are both at $4.40.
At his only other run this campaign Sangster finished last of eight runners when first-up in the Group One Waikato Sprint (1400m), run in near record time, at Te Rapa.
Busuttin said that run was inconclusive as Sangster was below his best against a crack field which included second-placed King Mufhasa who won the Group One Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield at his next start.
“He was just run off his feet first-up and basically having a run,” Busuttin said.