Lisa’s wish: My two Platinums need a hot pace and lots of luck to get some of the derby cash
Trainer Lisa Latta knows she almost certainly won’t be granted her first wish for Saturday’s $1 million New Zealand Derby - rain to ease the Ellerslie track.
Isolated showers were predicted for Auckland today but the forecast until Saturday is otherwise warm and fine.
But Latta is hoping she gets her second wish - that the pace is really on to bring Lincoln Farms’ outsiders Platinum Road ($126) and Platinum Spirit ($61) into the reckoning.
Latta knows her charges are up against it with $1million yearling Dragon Leap and crack filly Two Illicit looking to hold a mortgage on the race.
“My pair definitely don’t have the turn of foot of the favourites,” said Latta. “But I know that they will see out the 2400 metres if it becomes a real staying test.”
Platinum Spirit is the only horse in the field to have tackled 2400 metres when he really came into his own, finishing on powerfully for third against older rating 82 horses in the Summer Cup at Trentham.
Before that he tackled 2300 metres at Awapuni, beaten less than a length when fourth behind Red River Rock, again doing his best work late.
“The one thing we do know about him is that he will love 2400 metres and stay all day. It’s hard to get a line on him as he’s been running against the older horses and not the three-year-olds.
“He hasn’t had a run right-handed but that doesn’t worry me with him as he is such an easy-going horse.”
Latta says Platinum Spirit has really furnished into a strong individual and has coped with everything she has thrown at him in a bid to qualify him for the derby.
Platinum Road, on the other hand, is still quite immature.
“He looks a bit weak and is probably 12 months away but he’s going to furnish into a lovely stayer.
“I’ve been doing a lot of swimming with him lately to take the pressure off his legs given how firm all the training tracks are. “But Jonathan (Riddell) galloped him on Saturday morning and was very happy with his work. He has drawn beautifully in barrier six so we should be able to get a nice, economical trip.”
Platinum Road couldn’t match the high speed of Two Illicit and Travelling Light last time in the Waikato Guineas (2000m) but he was only a head from third. And his previous run for fourth at Trentham over 2200 metres, picking up ground late, was that of a horse looking for a longer trip.
“They’re going to need all the luck in the world and we’re just hoping one of them can lob into third or fourth. And as we saw last year, upsets do happen in the derby.”
And that’s what Lincoln Farms’ business manager Ian Middleton, for one, is relying on.
While owners John and Lynne Street and Neville McAlister will be busy watching Platinum Spirit and Platinum Road in the running, Middleton will be trying to keep track of four horses.
Middleton has a share in both the Peter Didham-trained runners, Red Rufus and Den Bosch, and he rates Den Bosch in particular a real chance, so long as he doesn’t get too far back in the running.
“I reckon it’s an extremely open race and if it’s run at a decent tempo you can make a case for half the field.
“Nobody knows who can stay. Look at Crown Prosecutor who paid $105 last year.”
Middleton quietly fancies Reggiewood as an upsetter, one of three horses Roger James and Robert Wellwood will line up, along with Two Illicit and Monlula.
Surprisingly this year five trainers have multiple stable runners. As well as James and Wellwood, Latta and Didham, there’s Andrew Campbell with Peleton, Tibetan and Vladivostok and Johno Benner and Holly Wynyard with Shakespeare and Dalmatia.
More news in Gallops
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Can Platinum Road bounce back from last-start flop? - It’s a question Lisa can’t answer
Awapuni standout: Unlucky Lincoln Star in career best form, JK Riddell knows him well
Fast and furious - 1000 metre dash on Wellington Cup day next for Lincoln’s Kruz
Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them
Saturday at Trentham
Race 1: Lincoln Valley
“He didn’t have all favours last start- he was three wide without cover the trip and the effort told in the last bit. He also got squeezed up a little late. From the six draw we will go forward and I’m sure Lisa will have learned a lot from him in his last run. His work has been really good and I have added a nasal strip as he is quite a noisy breather and it may help. It’s not an overly strong field and the big roomy track will suit.”
Race 7: Platinum Spirit
“We are racing him out of his grade so he gets in at a nice light weight. Carrying 60kg last start was a really big ask and he got there a touch too soon. He has drawn awkwardly at 12 but he has the ability to put himself in the race if there’s a lack of speed. He looks fantastic and still holds a nomination for the Wellington Cup next week but might need to gain a few more points to get into the field. Chris Dell rides.”
Race 8: Father Lenihan
“The outside draw is tricky but Robbie knows him well - he’s ridden him in three of his four wins - and I’m sure he will make him jump and put him on the speed. He’s been out of the winner’s circle for a while but he went a great race last start and this field is nowhere near as strong. We were going to step him up over ground but he sits so awkwardly in the ratings at 76 that he would be carrying the top weight of 62kg in a R74 2000m.”