From the Commentary Box – Monday, 10 February 2014

The Derby Kings reigned supreme at Te Rapa last Saturday.

The old firm of trainer Roger James and jockey Vinny Colgan were at it again when picking up a double with two promising three year olds.

The pair have enjoyed no fewer than ten Derby victories between them over the years with the honours shared equally at five apiece.

Tidal Light, Hades, Roysyn, Zonda and Silent Achiever were all trained by James, with Colgan winning on Hades, Roysyn and Zonda.

Colgan has also won on Redoubt’s Dancer and last year’s winner, Habibi.

Colgan, these days based in Brisbane, made a fleeting trip to Te Rapa primarily to ride Ruakaka sprinter Durham Town in the Group One NRM Sprint.

When James realised his former star apprentice was going to ride at Te Rapa, he quickly engaged him for Hera and Delago’s Secret.

Hera contested one of the feature races on the card, the Group Two Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies Classic.

After a game second placing to arch rival Spellbinder at her last start, Hera, aided by a brilliant tactical ride by Colgan, managed to reverse the result on this occassion.

After beginning well, Hera was sent forward with the intention of trailing the leaders.

However, Colgan soon realised none of his rivals were interested in leading and went to plan B.

“I just let my filly stride to the front and she seemed very happy there” said Colgan later.

The winning of the race was when Colgan managed to give his mount a breather down the back straight.

“I couldn’t believe how we managed to get away with such an easy time of it in front, especially after everyone wanted to get handy early on” said Colgan.

Approaching the home turn, Colgan was confident of success.

“She was travelling beautifully and I knew she would win” he said.

Race favourite Spellbinder loomed up at the 300m and looked a distinct winning chance.

But Colgan never lost the faith in his filly.

“Sure Spellbinder came at us, but she was never going to get past us” said Colgan.

An eyecatching run in the race was the Shaune Ritchie trained Chop Chop who came from last to finish a fast closing fourth.

It was a meritorious performance in a leader’s biased race.

Trainer Roger James was quick to point out the brilliant ride by Colgan.

“That’s the ability of Vinny to quickly sum up what was happening and to adapt to that” said James.

Hera, raced by long time stable clients Ron and Fran Dixon from Wellington, will now be set for a winter Queensland campaign.

“I will give her a break now and aim her towards those nice fillies races in Queensland” said James.

Delago’s Secret still has Derby aspirations after his win at Te Rapa on Saturday.

Those Derby plans were thrown into disarray last week when Delago’s Secret was balloted out of the Waikato Guineas.

“I thought he would have been competitive in the Guineas last week, so he had to be a good chance today” said James.

After a tardy beginning, Delago’s Secret was hunted along by Colgan to eventually settle just off the speed.

“He was slow to jump, but once he got going I was confident of winning” said Colgan.

Delago’s Secret justified his favouritism beating another Cambridge trained runner, Mountain Jack.

He will continue to be aimed at the TV3 NZ Derby next month.

The other local winner on the card was the Baker/ Forsman trained Sport’s Illustrated.

The three year old filly capped off a great day for breeder and owner Gary Chittick who won the Group One Herbie Dyke Stakes later in the day with Costume.

Sport’s Illustrated scored nicely after settling well back in the field for Mark Du Plessis.

Finally, congratulations to Cambridge Stud’s champion stallion, Zabeel, who was inducted into the NZ Racing Hall of Fame last Friday night.

The recently retired stallion was a deserving inductee.

I’ll catch you next week.