Good gallop towards Derby

The Hassler on track for the NZ Derby.

The Hassler on track for the NZ Derby.

New Zealand Derby contender The Hassler is peaking at the right time, judging by his work at Cambridge this morning.

“I thought his work was very solid,” said trainer Roger James. “It was nice staying work and he’s going to be cherry ripe for Saturday.”

Raceday rider Michael Coleman came over from Matamata to partner The Hassler. “He [Coleman] went home pretty chuffed,” James added.

The Hassler was at $16 for the BMW Derby this morning, but will be a genuine chance with luck in the running. He has won two races at 2100 metres and produced an encouraging Derby trial for fifth in the Avondale Guineas when settling back and maintaining a solid finish.

“I thought his run had a lot of merit,” said James. “He improved at the 900m and was wide from there. It was also Michael’s first ride on the horse and I’m pleased he has had a ride on him before the Derby.”

Vinnie Colgan rode The Hassler in his two wins but is sticking with the favourite Rangipo on Saturday.

The Hassler, a $56,000 yearling buy from the Festival session at Karaka, is by Melbourne Cup winner Shocking and from a Zabeel mare. “I’ve got no worries about him getting the trip [2400m],” said James. “He doesn’t have to get back and a good draw would be a big help.”

Both James and Coleman have good Derby records, with James winning the race five times and Coleman twice.

James’ other runners at Ellerslie on Saturday will include Cool Tart (Sunline Vase), Miss Foxwood (Darley Plate) and Zastella (rating 65 2100m), while Amazing Lady tackles the Gr.3 Little Avondale Lowland Stakes at Hastings on Wednesday.

– NZ Racing Desk