By Ray Hickson
It’s one of the most extraordinary stats in racing – Gai Waterhouse has never won an Australian Derby but after Yaletown won what has been in recent years the most significant lead-up race, the Group 2 $200,000 Signace Tulloch Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill, could 2021 be the year?
That's right, among 134 Group 1 winners there isn't an Australian Derby on the Waterhouse mantelpiece.
Co-trainer Adrian Bott said the partnership, which has realised 10 Group 1 wins so far, has recorded a number of firsts for Racing’s First Lady and isn’t prepared to say the lightly raced Yaletown can’t measure up at Randwick next Saturday.
Waterhouse has run second in the Derby with Descarado (2010) and Carnegie Express (2002) and third with Laser Hawk (2012) and Tuesday Joy (2007).
“We’ve ticked off a few firsts for the partnership, a first Thousand Guineas and a first Oaks, so there’s a couple on the resume we really want to tick off and a Derby would be right up there,’’ Bott said.
“We thought the Derby was going to come up too quick for Yaletown purely because of the lack of race experience.
“Hopefully he can be the horse, he’s coming through the right form race into the Derby.”
The Tulloch has provided the past four winners of the Group 1 $2m Bentley Australian Derby (2400m) so the pressure’s on Yaletown to continue that run at what will be only his fifth race start.
Ethiopia won the Derby in 2012 at just his fourth appearance. Bott said Yaletown, who led all the way to win the Tulloch, has always struck the stable as a potentially high class stayer and will get his chance to prove it.
“I think there’s still a bit more there, it was great to see him respond when he was under pressure and I’m sure he’ll continue to do that over a bit further,” Bott said.
“We really thought he’d excel stretching out to that trip (2000m) today, so it was good to see him tick that off.
“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).
“Tim (Clark) was able to give him a lovely ride, he just got into a nice rhythm, a nice even tempo. He’s probably not the most brilliant in terms of turn of foot but he’ll keep giving for you all day.”
Yaletown firmed into $15 with TAB after his Tulloch win and jockey Tim Clark said he’s has Derby prospect “written all over him” after the win.
However, he also believes the gelding has to find “two or three lengths” to be a genuine winning chance next weekend against the likes of Montefilia and Sky Lab who share favouritism after running third and second respectively in the Rosehill Guineas.
“He cruised along in front and kept finding,’’ Clark said.
Yaletown wins the Tulloch Stakes at Rosehill
“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.
“He was probably a bit unlucky not to win first up and staying at 1500m second-up being a fast run race he was just chasing the whole way.
“He has a really good attitude and looking at him he looks like he has a good constitution, he’s a big strong horse, so I don’t think the back up is going to worry him.”