Many who had an eye to this Saturday’s $1.5 million Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby were taken with Bondeiger’s effort over the closing stages of last week’s Dilmah Exceptional Teas Vase at Moonee Valley.
The Danny O’Brien-trained talent flashed home and although he finished seventh, he returned some of the most impressive closing sectionals in the 2040-metre event, which is a renowned Derby lead-up.
But he will need to do something that has not been achieved for almost 30 years if he is to win the 2500m Derby.
Not since Handy Proverb, who won the 1985 Derby off a 12th placing in the Caulfield Cup, has the Derby winner finished further back than fourth at their final lead-up run.
And every winner since Redding, who won the 1992 Derby off a fourth placing in the Vase, has filled a top-three slot at their final lead-up.
Eleven of those past 21 winners came through the race Bondeiger contested last week, in which Moonovermanhattan defeated Atmosphere and Go Indy Go, but the race that not too long ago was considered THE guide to the Derby has had a decreasing influence on the race in recent years.
All six Derby winners from 2002 to 2007 came through the Vase, but it has provided just one winner since – Lion Tamer in 2010.
The Caulfield Classic, which until this year was known as the Norman Robinson Stakes, has re-emerged as the best local lead-up, having provided two of the past three winners including Polanski last year, but lately horses have proven they can win the Derby without a Melbourne lead-up.
In the past five years, Monaco Consul and Fiveandahalfstar have won the Derby after rounding out their preparations in Sydney, but Form Focus data reveals that every one of the previous 27 winners had their final lead-up in Melbourne.
Raging favourite Hampton Court will be out to emulate Monaco Consul and win the Derby after winning the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick.
Three of the past five Derby winners, Lion Tamer and Sangster being the others, have contested the Spring Champion but you have to go back to Nothin’ Leica Dane – who, like Hampton Court, was trained by Gai Waterhouse – to find the next most recent horse to do the double.
Twenty-one Spring Champion winners have contested the Derby in the past 30 years with Stylish Century (1989) the only other to complete the double.
A further six Spring Champion winners have finished second in the Derby, including last year’s runner-up Complacent, with another three third.
It’s not a stellar winning strike-rate, but it’s better than the Geelong Classic. History suggests getting beaten at Geelong was the best thing for Preferment’s Derby prospects with no Geelong Classic winner going on to win the Derby since Haymaker in 1974.
Forty-eight have tried with Dayana and Tobin Bronze the only others to have completed the Classic-Derby double.
The Geelong 2200m event has produced a recent winner, though, with Rebel Raider winning the Derby after a third placing at Geelong.
He started $101 and is one of many upset winners in what could possibly be the most disturbing trend for Hampton Court fans.
A favourite has not been successful in the Derby since Efficient saluted at $2.40 in 2006.
Along with Rebel Raider, winners in the past six years include $41 pop Fiveandahalfstar and $13 chances Lion Tamer and Sangster.
At least Hampton Court will be high up in the racebook, which has where most recent Derby winners have been. Fifteen of the past 21 winners have carried number one, two, three or four.
The Derby is just one of many features at Flemington on Saturday and following horses unplaced in the Cox Plate has been a ticket to finding the winner of the Longines Mackinnon Stakes in recent years.
Nine of the past 14 Mackinnons have been won by horses backing up out of the Cox Plate, seven of which had finished fourth, fifth or sixth at Moonee Valley.
Last week’s fourth (Side Glance), fifth (Foreteller) and sixth (Happy Trails) placegetters are all running along with Criterion, who finished behind Adelaide last week.
The Myer Classic has been dominated by Sydney-trained mares of late, winning the past four, including Appearance and Red Tracer who were both third-up after contesting the Tristarc Stakes at Caulfield.
Red Tracer struck a blow for favourite punters last year after three Myer Classic blowout results in a row, but the day’s remaining Group 1 – the Coolmore Stud Stakes – has been a great race for favourites with six of the eight editions at Group 1 level having been won the punters’ elect.
In contrast, the Lexus Stakes, in which Signoff is set to start a short-priced favourite, has been a graveyard for punters with Shocking, who started $4.40 in 2008, the only favourite to have won since 1992.