Derby focus for Cambridge stables

A couple of Cambridge stables are taking vastly different approaches this weekend to the Gr.1 $A500,000 Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm seven days later.

While the Murray Baker – Andrew Forsman stable will have their two Derby hopefuls, Usainity and Ambitious Champion, clashing in the Gr.3 $A150,000 Grand Prix Stakes in Brisbane tomorrow , Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young will be attempting to earn Airtime a place in the Derby with a start in Sydney.

Airtime, a son of High Chapparal, will make his Australian debut in the $A85,000 Pixable Handicap (2000m) at Randwick tomorrow and will be ridden by Jay Ford, who is best-known as the regular rider of the champion Australian sprinter Takeover Target.

Airtime will face a capacity field in just his sixth raceday start, but his trainers believe the gamble will be worth it. “He’s always shown us plenty of ability, but being a December foal, the three-year-old races here came up six months too early. He’s going to be much better next season, but he deserves his chance to get in the (Queensland) Derby.”

Airtime was unplaced in his debut last November and was then given a break. Since returning he has developed into a very promising galloper.

Fresh-up he won over 1400 metres at Ellerslie on March 30, then after a second at Trentham and an unplaced run at Te Rapa he recaptured his best form with a win in heavy ground over 1800 metres at New Plymouth.

Airtime’s unplaced effort two starts ago came in a 2000-metre race at Te Rapa on April 27 which was won in highly impressive fashion by Ambitious Champion.

It was truly an unbelievable performance from Ambitious Champion, who settled back and was shunted extremely wide on the track by an inside horse on entering the home straight, but once balanced up again by rider Opie Bosson he charged home to grab victory in the last stride.

Ambitious Champion had been runner-up in his first three starts then a winner over 1600 metres leading into the Te Rapa middle-distance debut, which earned him the trip to Brisbane.

Jonathan Riddell has picked up the ride on Ambitious Champion tomorrow, while Hugh Bowman will continue his association with stablemate Usainity, who is also by Ambitious Champion’s sire, Zed.

Bowman has had two rides on Unsainity for a first-up Australian win in the Gr.3 Frank Packer Plate at Randwick (the same day that Ambitious Champion recorded his memorable Te Rapa success) and a solid third to Hawkspur and Survived in the Gr.3 Rough Habit Plate.