Riff Rocket a genuine chance to stay Derby trip

1 November 2023

Can the Penfolds Victoria Derby favourite run a strong 2500m? Chris Waller thinks so.

Chris Waller's hope that Saturday's $2 million Victoria Derby is run at a 'genuine tempo' underlines the champion trainer's belief in Riff Rocket's ability to be strong at the end of 2500 metres.

The raging Derby favourite was beaten at $1.28 in a sit-sprint Caulfield Classic (2000m) at his most recent appearance, which Waller felt did not suit the son of US Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

The gelding was a runaway winner of the Listed Super Impose Stakes (1800m) at the Derby venue at his previous starts and his work under raceday jockey James Mcdonald at Flemington on Tuesday has Waller confident he can bounce back.

"He certainly likes Flemington and we need him to replicate his run here two starts ago to be a threat in the Derby on Saturday," Waller said.

"His work was very good. James McDonald was aboard, he said the horse relaxed very well and quickened up nicely in the straight, so I think conserving energy over the 2500 metre distance is the key.

"He's certainly got a great turn of foot when called upon and I'm sure he can put last start's defeat behind us provided we get a genuinely-run race."


While Riff Rocket possesses strength on the male side of his pedigree, his dam Missile Coda is a daughter of sprinter Smart Missile (Fastnet Rock) whose five wins were all between 1000m and 1300m.

Missile Coda is out of the Lonhro mare Rain Melody, whose four wins were in races up to 1200m, and is a three-quarter-sister to I Believe, the dam of the dam of multiple Group 2-winning sprinter and T J Smith Stakes runner-up Rain Affair (Commands).

Missile Coda's only other to race is Quintillion, a son of Deep Field who is also trained by Waller and is yet to win in five starts but owns two third placings in 1550m Canterbury maidens.

Riff Rocket is one of 16 acceptors for the Derby and will start from barrier five with his Caulfield Classic conqueror Sunsets (barrier 16), last Saturday's Moonee Valley Vase quinella Apulia (three) and Verdad (four) among his rivals.

Experience the Magic of the 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival

Prepare for a truly unforgettable Cup Week, where equine athleticism meets Melbourne style in a spectacular showcase of thoroughbred excellence. Be there to experience the magic trackside as new champions etch their names into racing folklore. Tickets still available, don't miss out!.

Penfolds Victoria Derby Day is the first day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival. It's steeped in history and traditional where only the best of the best come to race. It's when Melbourne embraces spring and Flemington is awash of elegant black and white, with a splash of Penfolds red. To the winner of the Penfolds Victoria Derby, a Magill Cellar 3 barrel will be presented. Crafted and cellared at Penfolds Magill Estate in South Australia.