THEY are only a preview of what the Blue Riband could look like, but Sunday’s Victoria Trotters’ Derby heats in Maryborough promise to be an enthralling affair.
Headed by super filly Pink Galahs and electrifying colt Elite Stride, the qualifies include the unbeaten Cover Of Darkness, Vicbred champion Powderkeg, the highly-talented Andover Sun and classy New South Wales raider Gimondi.
If that’s not appealing enough, French squaregaiter Holzarte Vedaquais will make his Australian debut!
Purchased by clients of the Tim Butt stable as a racing and breeding proposition, Holzarte Vedaquais was sent to Victoria last week in preparation for the Derby.
The three-year-old has been stabled at Yabby Dam Farm near Ballarat, where he is reported to have “settled in perfectly”.
Holzarte Vedaquais, which hasn’t raced since competing in Vincennes in February, is in the care of leading squaregaiting horseman Anton Golino and co-trainer Jack MacKinnon while in Victoria.
MacKinnon drove the son of Brillantissime in a trial at Tabcorp Park Melton earlier this week, where he finished second behind Elite Stride.
Champion horsewoman Kerryn Manning will partner the colt in the opening heat, where he has drawn to figure prominently from the pole.
“He’s a nice little horse, and this is a big step, but we might as well kick off and have a month’s racing against his own age,” Butt said.
“He has settled in perfectly at Yabby Dam Farms and come through his trial in fine shape.
“I am pleased with his draw and expect him go very well. Obviously whatever he does this week he will improve on.”
The second heat will provide one of the most stirring clashes of the season as Pink Galahs collides with Elite Stride.
Boasting nine victories and a second from 10 starts, Elite Stride has an average winning margin of 14 metres.
Trainer Anthony Butt has made no secret about his opinion of the son of Muscle Hill, stating the youngster “has the complete arsenal to go all the way”.
Recently referred to as potentially the greatest trotting mare produced in the southern hemisphere, Pink Galahs has left onlookers shaking their heads in amazement in recent weeks.
After beating some of the best open age mares in the nation, the three-year-old then upstaged a field of Australia’s premier open class trotters in the Bill Collins Sprint a fortnight ago.
Last weekend the Matthew Craven-trained filly registered a soft win the Victoria Trotters’ Oaks.
In an early win for Elite Stride, he will begin from barrier three, with Pink Galahs drawn five.