Chris Waller is zeroing in on a fourth Grand Prix Stakes victory in five years at Eagle Farm, the traditional lead-up to the Queensland Derby.
Sydney’s premier trainer has celebrated with the connections of Hawkspur, Vilanova and Mackintosh in recent years but only one of that trio has gone on to win the Group One Queensland Derby (2400m).
Hawkspur nailed the double in 2013 while Vilanova was third to Sonntag a year later and Mackintosh found the distance well beyond him last year.
Waller has two runners in Saturday’s 2200m-feature believes Black On Gold has the best chance to emulate Hawkspur.
Black On Gold warmed up for his first trip to Brisbane by winning a benchmark 78 over 1800m at Rosehill on May 6.
“This horse could be the surprise package of the winter,” Waller said.
“He’s going up there in good form and he’s racing like the distance will be no problem.”
Veladero, the Group Three Gloaming Stakes (1800m) winner last spring, is Waller’s other chance and must audition well under Hugh Bowman to be considered for the Derby.
“It’ll be a good test for him. He might be suspect at the distance. If he didn’t run well, we wouldn’t run in the Derby,” Waller said.
The trainer has made an unusual gear change on Tangled who runs in the Group Two BTC Sires’ Produce Stakes after his win in the Champagne Classic.
“It’s a bit of a gamble putting blinkers on a last-start winner,” he said.
“It’s to help him be a little bit sharper in the early and middle stages of his race. Over the 1200 metre distance he was under riding through the race.”