James calling on Colgan’s skills at Te Rapa

The old firm of Roger James and Vinnie Colgan will be reunited at Te Rapa on Saturday in a bid for Group Two success and a tilt at the Gr. 1 TV3 NZ Derby.

Colgan is currently domiciled in Brisbane but he has answered the call from Donna Logan to ride Durham Town in the Gr. 1 NRM Sprint on Saturday and James was quick to confirm him for his four runners at the meeting.

James’ representation will include Hera in the Gr. 2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies Classic and Delago’s Secret in the Rating 65 2100 metres. Hera is a leading prospect in the fillies’ feature, while Delago’s Secret needs to win to sneak into the field for the Gr. 1 TV3 NZ Derby at Ellerslie on march 1.

Colgan served his apprenticeship with James in Matamata and the combination has had a phenomenal run of success, including three Derbies in the 1990s. Colgan was aboard the James-trained Roysyn when winning the 1995 NZ Derby and two years later they combined to win the race with Zonda then in 1999 with Hades.

Colgan has since won two more NZ Derbies – Redoute’s Dancer in 2007 and Habibi last year – to become the most successful rider in the race, while James saddled up Silent Achiever to take the event two years ago with James McDonald aboard.

James is still rueing the fact Delago’s Secret didn’t make the field for last Saturday’s Gr. 2 Darci Brahma Waikato Guineas. The son of Encosta de Lago was left one on the ballot for the feature won by Puccini.

“I was gutted when he didn’t get in the field,” said James. “I worked him at 7.30am after I found out he hadn’t made it and his work was enormous. Then the next day, the horse he beat at Matamata came out and won at Taranaki.

“I honestly believe he would have been a big chance last Saturday. He’s a well above average horse and the way he won at Matamata he wants to stay.”

Most candidates for the March 1 NZ Derby will be competing in the Gr. 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie on Saturday week but James can’t afford to take the chance and wait for the $100,000 race as Delago’s Secret could again end up on the ballot list.

“We’ve got to go this Saturday and hope he can win it,” said James. “If he does it will be straight into the Derby.”

Delagos’ Secret began his career chasing home Chambord over 1200 metres at Gisborne last September and he was also placed in two of his next three starts before appreciating the step up to 1600 metres at Matamata on January 17. In that latest event he beat Bo Duke by a long head and was doing his work nicely over the final stages.

Delago’s Secret is one of three horses James has in the NZ Derby nominations and is currently sitting 30th equal in order of entry. A win on Saturday, along with the usual number of dropouts, could see him sneak into the Derby field.

His third NZ Derby win came in 1999 Hades on own account and two years ago the filly Silent Achiever proved too classy for her opposition in Ellerslie’s major three-year-old event.