Fresh from saddling up his first Group race starter at Trentham yesterday, trainer Joe Waldron now has thoughts of the New Zealand Derby.
Just months after taking out his permit to train licence, Waldron lined up his two-race winner Princess Dillon in the Gr. 3 Wellington Cup and took a lot of satisfaction out of the Dylan Thomas mare’s effort for sixth, less than five lengths from the winner Magic Chai.
While Princess Dillon is enjoying a break, Waldron’s attention will centre over the next few weeks on the progress of three-year-old stable member Flying Feet, who cleared maiden grade with an impressive performance at Te Rapa on Sunday. The Ocean Park gelding had provided a taste of his ability when second on debut at Rotorua a month ago and lined up in today’s maiden 1400-metre race amid high expectations that his nomination for the New Zealand Derby was more than just speculative.
Things didn’t get off too well as Flying Feet was last to hit the ground and once positions had been sorted he was third-last and the best part of 10 lengths adrift of the leaders. Rider Opie Bosson got him moving with 700 metres to run but at the top of the straight as he loomed up wide he still faced a huge task.
Even despite showing his lack of experience as he lugged in while challenging, Flying Feet was up to the task and he had the race in the bag as he strode comfortably to a three-quarter-length win over co-favourite Heat Seeker.
“I’m the lucky recipient of a pretty exciting horse,” said Waldron, who has quickly put together a record of four wins from just 12 raceday starters. "Whether he's a genuine Derby horse we stilll don't know, but the signs at this stage are good.
“He’s a sensitive character that gets there if you take him slowly, and with that in mind Alec Jorgensen, one of the vets at Waikato Equine, put in a word for me.”
Flying Feet races in the colours of his breeder, Sir Owen Glenn and was raised at Curraghmore.
Glenn's numerous big wins include the Victoria Derby with Monaco Consul and the Australian Derby with Criterion. Whether the New Zealand Derby can be added to that list will be more clear after Flying Feet runs in a Rating 65 1600-metre race at Matamata on February 2.
“I actually had a look at the programme booklet last night,” Waldron confessed. “That looks like the most suitable race for him next, then if we’re still on track for the Derby he can step up to a middle-distance in the Avondale Guineas (February 17).”
Flying Feet’s win took his sire Ocean Park’s tally to 18 individual winners, all of them members of his first crop. The leggy bay is out of the French-bred Diesis mare Beautiful Reward and is a half-brother to the stakes winner Goliath and stakes-placed Mr Spielberg, who between them have won 14 races in Singapore. the Informant