Gai Waterhouse might finally get that elusive ATC Australian Derby after all.
Racing’s first lady had won just about everything there is worth winning in Australian racing but she is yet to add her name to the Derby honour roll.
But Yaletown will give Waterhouse and her training partner Adrian Bott another chance to win the prestigious three-year-old classic after his tough effort to take out the Group 2 $200,000 Tulloch Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens.
Waterhouse wasn’t on track for the Tulloch Stakes but Bott confirmed Yaletown will back up in the Group 1 $2 million ATC Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick next Saturday.
“We really thought he’d excel stretching out to that trip (2000m) today, so it was good to see him tick that off,’’ Bott said.
“As I said everything we’ve seen from him at home and in his career to date gave us the indication that he would get further.
“When he won his maiden on debut at Kembla Grange last spring we put him away with the Derby in mind.
“I guess the only concern we had was whether the Derby would come around too soon but he showed today he is ready for next week.’’
Yaletown leads all in the Tulloch Stakes for @gaiwaterhouse1.
Nailed it, @lizziejelfs. pic.twitter.com/1Ogs9jCcXv
Yaletown ($4.80) was brilliantly rated in front by Tim Clark and held off the late surge of Prompt Prodigy ($31) to win by a half length with Young Werther ($7) a long neck away third.
Favourite Cherry Tortoni ($3.50) was back at the rear of the field in a slowly run race and worked home well without threatening to finish fifth, beaten 1½ lengths.
Waterhouse and Bott can take further encouragement from recent Tulloch Stakes history with the last four winners of the Rosehill race backing up a week later to claim the Derby – Quick Thinker (2020), Angel Of Truth (2019), Levendi (2018) and Jon Snow (2017).
Yaletown is by Golden Slipper winner Vancouver but Bott said the Coolmore-owned gelding will enjoy getting out to 2400m.
“Tim (Clark) was able to give Yaletown a lovely ride, he just got into a nice rhythm, a nice even tempo,’’ Bott said.
“He’s probably not the most brilliant in terms of turn of foot but he’ll keep giving for you all day.’’
Waterhouse has won 144 Group 1 races including 10 with Bott but it’s a statistical quirk of her celebrated training career that she hasn’t won the Derby on her home track.
This is a race her late father, Tommy Smith, dominated with a record nine wins in the AJC (now ATC) Derby with champions like Tulloch, Kingston Town and Imagele.
Yaletown will back up in the Derby next Saturday. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
The closest Waterhouse has come to winning the Derby previously was with Carnegie Express, who was run down right on the line by Don Eduardo in 2001. She has also trained minor placegetters Tuesday Joy (2007) and Laser Hawk (2012).
In latest TAB Fixed Odds betting, Yaletown is into $15 for the ATC Australian Derby with Skylab and Montefilia favourites at $5.
Bott said his training partnership with Waterhouse has already created “some firsts” since they joined forces in 2017.
“We won the Thousand Guineas (Global Glamour, 2016) and the VRC Oaks (Pinot, 2017) among others races for the first time together,’’ Bott said.
Clark described Yaletown as a “lovely, big horse” who has always shown ability.
“This was the first time he has been out over an extend trip and he really enjoyed that, he’s progressing the right way,’’ Clark said.
“They took the blinkers off, he relaxed lovely and conserved every bit of energy that he could and he was too strong for them late.”
Neville Sellwood Stakes: Ambition repays Waller belief
– Matt Jones
Shared Ambition didn’t race like a typical Chris Waller-trained horse but the master trainer didn’t mind as he led all the way for a dominant win at Royal Randwick.
“It doesn’t happen often,” Waller said of the five-year-old’s victory in the XXXX Neville Sellwood Stakes.
“It’s certainly a lot easier when you’re getting towards your grand finals because you don’t want to be having hard luck stories.
“I was surprised when (Entente) gave up the lead but they went pretty quick early and it was a very clever ride.
“I was very confident with him but not with the draw.”
Champion jockey James McDonald couldn’t believe his luck in the run as Shared Ambition got a pretty cushy run throughout then dashed away for a 1¾-length win from Entente.
“It was a tricky draw (8). James’ first plan was to try and slot in third and fourth but that didn’t quite eventuate,” Waller said.
“So he rolled forward and actually did quite a bit of work early, but it was good to see him back off the speed in the middle stages and I think that gave him a really good sprint and he was very strong through the line.”
Shared Ambition and James McDonald won the Neville Sellwood Stakes after dictating the speed. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
McDonald said Shared Ambition travelled like the winner the whole way, as it looked to the punters from the grandstand at Rosehill.
“He bowled along really nicely and got into a lovely comfort zone,” McDonald said.
“I wasn’t going to slow but in a comfortable rhythm. He railed like a greyhound and just dashed away.”
Waller could back him up next week in the Doncaster Mile but it’s unlikely.
“The Doomben Cup is probably his race. I want to try and run him here again but if not, Queensland is a good option for him,” he said.
Originally published asYaletown enhances Gai’s bid for elusive Derby
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