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Coleman's Derby confidence grows with Ellerslie gallop

More than a dozen years have passed since Michael Coleman last won the New Zealand Derby, but he believes the time is at hand to address that anomaly.

Coleman left Ellerslie racecourse this morning confident that he has the horsepower in the shape of Makfi colt Savile Row to give him his first win since riding the freakish galloper Xcellent to victory in the country’s premier classic.

The Pentire gelding was having just his third start when he stormed home to take the blue riband on Boxing Day 2004, the first of four Group One wins with Coleman on top. Savile Row will go into Saturday’s $1 million Vodafone New Zealand Derby with a record of two wins from six starts as well as a trio of Group One seconds in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas, Levin Classic and Herbie Dyke Stakes.

In the first of those he hit the line hard but was still convincingly beaten by Ugo Foscolo, whereas he could have won either or both of the next two if he had raced truly over the final stages instead of going down by a nose in the Levin Classic and a half-head in the other.

“He’s still not perfect, he wanted to get on one rein a bit, but with a shadow roll on he was okay, good enough to say he’s all set for Saturday,” Coleman told after this morning’s special pre-carnival training session at Ellerslie.

“I’m hopeful he’ll be alright, but the main thing right now is that he feels good, he’s in the right shape.”

The Mike Moroney/Pam Gerard-trained colt worked in company with his Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup-bound stablemate Mister Impatience in what was a searching gallop with a twist.

“Mike wanted Savile Row especially to be tested around the bend out of the straight, so they built up to a good speed heading out of the straight the first time,” Gerard explained. “He’s won at Ellerslie but he’s never raced around that bend and that’s where there’s a lot of pressure in a race like the Derby.

“Mickey’s pretty honest when it comes to summing things up and he was happy with how the horse handled himself. If he’s happy, I’m happy. We’ve had a good preparation and everything’s in place.

“The colt worked better but Mister Impatience went well enough too. He’s had the mileage and he’s on target for next week.”
[28 Feb 17]


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