Ad Riff Rocket ridden by James McDonald wins the ABC Bullion Super Impose Stakes at Flemington Racecourse on October 07, 2023. (Photo by George Sal/Racing Photos)

All set for intriguing edition of Penfolds Victoria Derby

2 November 2023 Written by Racing & Sports

First run in 1855, the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) is one of the oldest races in Australia. Not all modern-day Derby winners deliver to the same level again later on but we do still see some outstanding ones with Hitotsu just two years ago re-writing the history books.

This year, race-favourite Riff Rocket has a tried-and-true formula to follow. While last year Manzoice came through the Spring Champion Stakes and Hitotsu won the Australian Guineas at Flemington, the Listed Super Impose Stakes (1800m) has often been a good pointer to the Derby.

Fairy tale Derby winner Johnny Get Angry ran fourth in the Super Impose at Flemington in 2020 while Warning (2019) and Extra Brut (2018) both won the Super Impose on their way to winning the Derby.

What is interesting to note, is that both Extra Brut and Warning then ran in the Group 3 Caulfield Classic (2000m) and were beaten. Extra Brut started $2.25 at Caulfield and Warning $4.25, then taking out the Derby at $10 and $9 respectively.

Both Extra Brut and Warning improved around 3-4 lengths from their Super Impose win to their Derby win. Riff Rocket likely only needs to improve 1-2 lengths given how well he went there.

The son of American triple crown winner American Pharoah, who also sired 2022 VRC Oaks & Wakeful Stakes second placegetter Pavitra, was also beaten at Caulfield last start, the market support there telling.

Sent out at $1.28, the race was run incredibly slowly, which can throw up some unusual results, and he was only beaten by a nose margin. Beaten at Caulfield, Extra Brut (5.9L) and Warning (3.8L) have proven that the last start is not the be all and end all.

James McDonald also suggested getting back to the wide spaces of Flemington will suit Riff Rocket, and he’ll ensure the pace is genuine enough to bring out the best horse.

Riff Rocket was the strongest late at Caulfield with fourth placegetter Apulia already franking the form with a strong two length win at Moonee Valley on Saturday and Sunsets 6.5 lengths away when they met in the Super Impose.

The historical trends are there to say Riff Rocket can and will bounce back, and the price, suggesting he’s now around 35% more likely to lose than he was at Caulfield, looks enticing.

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