MANNY GELAGOTIS says Hvasstan has ”the whole package” after drawing gate nine for Saturday’s $1.5 million Victoria Derby (2500 metres) at Flemington.
Gelagotis, who is stable foreman for his brother Peter at Moe, went to Wednesday’s barrier draw worried it could ruin the Fastnet Rock colt’s chances in the Derby.
”The barrier was more critical to what I thought about the horse’s chances than anything else,” Gelagotis said. ”Now we have drawn in the middle of the field, it will give Glen [Boss, jockey] options. He should be able to help to find a spot and put him to sleep, it’s one less thing that can go wrong. I couldn’t be happier with that gate.”
The draw has three of the favourites next to each other in the barriers, with $2.70 top pick It’s A Dundeel to Hvasstan’s ($7) immediate outside and Mark Kavanagh’s Super Cool ($7.50) in gate 11.
However, it was Gelagotis who was oozing confidence about the Norman Robinson winner heading towards Saturday.
”We have thought for a while he was one of the two best colts in Melbourne. His lead-up going into the Norman Robinson was excellent but it was there he showed how good he is,” Gelagotis said. ”He had to find a way to win, and I just liked the way the horse picked himself up off the deck there. He showed he had taken a massive step.”
Hvasstan overcame a bumping duel with Kabayan in the straight to drive through the inside and win the Norman Robinson. ”This horse has got the whole package. He has shown he can accelerate off a slow tempo and a fast one as well,” Gelagotis said. ”There are no chinks in his armour, he can quicken, he can stay, and I have no doubt he will run the trip.”
The Derby is likely to be run at a good pace, with Fiveandahalfstar and the Gai Waterhouse-trained Our Desert Warrior likely to push forward and set a solid tempo.
That will suit New Zealand trainer Murray Baker with It’s A Dundeel, which maintained his place at the top of betting even after he was beaten in the Mitchelton Wines Vase by Super Cool as a long odds-on favourite at the weekend.
”We aren’t going to be changing anything. He is going to get back,” Baker said. ”It is a very big field, and we will need to get the right run because there are a lot of horses that just won’t stay and will be out of gas on the turn. That [staying] isn’t a problem for us. He has tightened up a bit from that run last week, and it has really helped him.”
It’s A Dundeel will probably be better suited to the long stretches of Flemington but so will his conqueror at Moonee Valley, Super Cool.
”Before he went to Moonee Valley he was getting back and finishing off, and you would have thought Flemington was going to be the track he was looking for,” trainer Mark Kavanagh said. ”I’m happy enough with the barrier because it looks like it’s going to be a truly run race. It is up to Michael Rodd now, but if he can get him relaxed and settled, we know he has a real turn of foot at the end.”
Honorius ($6.50) firmed after drawing gate two to be $6 second elect in the TAB Sportsbet market.
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