On The Watch

Derryn’s Visually Impressive Caulfield Win Confirmed By Fast Sectional Times

Having only his second race start and his first run since finishing sixth in the Festival Of Racing Stakes (Listed, 1000m) in March, Derryn went back from his outside barrier (12) and settled in last place.

Then after switching deep at the 300 metres, the colt sprinted strongly in the centre of the track and, after hitting 50 metre mark, he drew clear to win by a length.

The time for the 1000 metres was a smart 58.49 on the Soft 5 surface, but it was Derryn’s sectional times that were most noteworthy.

Clocked from the 800 metre mark, Derryn’s 200 metre break down was 10.93, 10.98 (400m in 21.91), 11.04 (600m in 32.95) with his final 200 metres in 11.30 to give the colt a final 800 metre time of 44.25 – the fastest recorded by any horse on the nine-race Caulfield program.

“He’s a non-fuss type of colt and everything we’ve seen him do is effortless, which is a good sign that he’s above average,” said co-trainer Tom Dabernig.

Connections subsequently advised that Derryn’s first spring target would be the Golden Rose Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) at Rosehill on 10 September.

In the main race at Caulfield, the Robbie Laing-trained Lord Of The Sky (Danerich) broke through for his first win in two years when taking out the Bletchingly Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) in a performance to suggest the enigmatic sprinter may now live up to his earlier potential.

And the reason behind Lord Of The Sky’s apparent improvement could be his ability to settle, the bold front-runner settling comfortably in the lead on this occasion for leading jockey Damien Oliver.

“He’s come back with a really great attitude this time,” Oliver said.

“Going to the start today he was probably as well behaved as he’s ever been. That gave me a good indication right from the word go.”

After beginning well from his good barrier (4), Lord Of The Sky soon found the lead, as expected, but for possibly the first time in his career the now six-year-old entire was able to be rated by the rider, a task that Oliver excels.

After clocking a moderate first 200 metres in 14.16, Oliver gradually lifted the tempo with fractions of 11.47, 11.34, 11.35 and 11.32 for a fast mid-race section, from the 1000 metres to the 200 metres, of 45.48, with his last 200 metres 12.01, for a final 1000 metres in 57.49.

After grabbing a good break on turning into home straight, Lord Of The Sky went on to win by a length and half from the $3.50 favourite Fast ‘N’ Rocking (Fastnet Rock) with Mahuta (Flying Spur) a length and quarter back in third place.

Oliver’s tactics proved the undoing of the runner-up Fast ‘N’ Rocking who faced a very difficult task in coming from back in eighth place.

Fast ‘N’ Rocking clocked the fastest closing sections of the race with his last 1000 metres in 57.28, then: 45.58 (last 800m), 34.27 (last 600m), 22.91 (last 400m) with his final 200 metres in 11.71, in a smart performance considering the circumstances of the race.

Another from back in the field to make ground in a pleasing first-up effort was the Wez Hunter-trained veteran Smokin’ Joey (Encosta De Lago) who came from last in the ten-horse field to finish fifth.

He clocked 57.30 for his last 1000 metres, then: 45.79 (last 800m),  34.53 (last 600m), 23.22 (last 400m) with his final 200 metres in 23.22 in an performance to suggest Smokin’ Joey is far from a spent force despite just turning nine years old.

At Saturday’s Rosehill meeting, the John Sargent-trained Esteban (Encosta De Lago) made it four wins in succession with another impressive victory, this time advancing further in class to take out the Benchmark 82 Handicap (2000m) by four and three quarter lengths.

After racing outside the leader, Esteban went to the front to hold out some early challengers on passing the 800 metres, established a winning break on turning for home and was not threatened from that point to score easily.

The time for the 2000 metre journey was a very sound 2:03.86 (12.38 200m rate) on the Soft6 track but it was Esteban’s latter times that impressed On The Watch.

Esteban clocked some quick 200 metres fractions in various parts the race, in turn then settling well (a sign of a good stayer). Especially noteworthy being his last 1800 metres of 1:49.42 (12.15 200m rate) and his final 1600 metres in 1.36.90 (a good 200m rate of 12.11) in affected conditions.

Connections later said that Esteban would now be spelled and aimed at an autumn carnival preparation. His recent wins, all by wide margins, have been supported by excellent sectional times suggesting the now four-year-old is a Group stayer in the making.

Later in the Rosehill program, the Team Hawkes-trained Interstellar (Shamoline Warrior) put up a smart effort in taking out the Benchmark 72, Three-Year-Old Fillies’ Handicap (1200m) at her first Australian start.

After showing good pace from her wide barrier (11), she soon crossed to settle nicely outside the leader before easily taking the lead halfway down the straight. She then fought back well to score by a neck with seemingly something in hand.

Interstellar was also impressive on the clock.

Timed from the 1000 metres, she ran 200 metre sections of 10.63, 11.66 (400m in 22.29), 12.01 (600m in 34.30), 11.67 (800m in 45.97) and 11.95 for a fast final 1000 metres in 57.92 on a Soft5 track.