Glorious Lad on track for Derby

Cambridge trainer Shaune Ritchie didn’t exactly get the barrier draw he wanted for Glorious Lad, but he couldn’t be happier with the three-year-old going into the Gr. 1 TV3 NZ Derby at Ellerslie on Saturday.

“He needs a good draw, it’s a must,” said Ritchie earlier this week when awaiting the acceptances for the $750,000 feature.

“The way Puccini and Rising Romance ran in the Avondale Guineas they are the horses to beat and for me to beat them he needs a good draw.”

Glorious Lad has drawn barrier 11 in the capacity field, further out than Ritchie hoped but he will come in a couple of placings if two of the ballots (Sir Lancelot and In A Minute) don’t get a run. On the other hand Rising Romance has drawn the ace and Puccini has barrier three.

 Ritchie will be attempting to win the Derby for the second time, having taken the race four years ago with Military Move, who was ridden by Michael Walker, Puccini’s jockey this weekend.

Mark Du Plessis has been Glorious Lad’s regular rider, having been aboard in all bar his winning debut at Taupo when he was ridden by Danielle Johnson.

Glorious Lad went on to finish second at Trentham on a heavy track then won over 1400 metres at Dargaville and ran second to Lucia Valentina in the Gr. 3 Ekraar Wellington Stakes at Otaki when stepped up to 1600 metres.

A win over 1600 metres at Ellerslie last month followed, then Glorious Lad produced a gutsy effort to finish fourth to Puccini in the Gr. 2 Darci Brahma Waikato Guineas (2000m) after being set alight across the top. He was beaten two and a half lengths.

Though he finished further from Puccini (four and three-quarter lengths) when third in the Gr. 2 Auckland Eye Avondale Guineas, there was merit in his performance. Rising Romance split the pair when beaten a length and a quarter.

“I felt on the corner last time he rolled a bit and gave Rising Romance a length on him,” said Ritchie. “He can’t afford to give away any ground so I’ve added sidewinkers for the Derby.

“I’m hoping he focuses a bit better. If Puccini pinches two lengths on straightening it’s all over. He’ll take a lot of catching.”