|Untapped three-year-old Hitotsu turned in one of the year’s finest performances to win today’s Group One $2 million Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington.|
Smothered up and back in the field for much of the race, Hitotsu was able to squeeze between rivals and then produce a barnstorming finish to win easily.
So fast did he finish Hitotsu held a widening length and three quarter length margin over runner-up Alegron.
At just his third run for the campaign, as well as for the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable, Hitotsu was backed in as favourite and his connections and punters were cheering at the finish of Victoria’s blue riband.
“He’s an interesting horse,” Eustace said. “He took a long time to come to hand and we had to be very patient.”
“We always knew the ability was there, but he just hadn’t quite got there.”
“He absolutely thrived off his Donald maiden win – it was only a maiden but the ease of the win meant he forced his way into the Guineas and we thought he would run a good race there and he did.”
“We were pretty confident coming into today that he would run a big race.”
“There was never a plan to run him again (between the Guineas and Derby). He’s a lightly framed, athletic galloper and we backed his ability to stay.”
For winning rider John Allen it was just a case of getting a run from near last on the corner. His mount was travelling and he just needed the run.
“It was a messy race,” a delighted Allen said after the brilliant win. “He relaxed well, dropped his head and was going nicely.”
“I had to ride for a bit of luck approaching the corner. I was just going so easily. It was just a matter of getting the smallest gap as he was going through it.”
“Once he got through there he picked up well and it was a very good win,” Allen added.
Hitotsu was a $100,000 buy for Wendy Kelly Racing from the Arrowfield Stud draft at the 2020 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale.
He raced three times for Kelly and showed massive natural ability – he chased home Artorius and co in the Blue Diamond Stakes. A large slice of the horse was acquired by a group headed by Ozzie Kheir and he was transferred to Maher and Eustace.
He is the first Australian Group One winner for his sire, the Japanese Horse of the Year, Champion Miler and Champion Sprinter, the mighty Maurice.
Standing this spring at Arrowfield Stud at a fee of $44,000 (inc GST), Maurice is already the sire of the Group One Nakayama Sprinters Stakes winner Pixie Knight.
Hitotsu’s dam, the Redoute’s Choice mare Love is Fickle, is an unraced daughter of the Group One Avondale Gold Cup winner She’s a Meanie.
Love is Fickle is a half sister to Group Two winning sire Love Conquers All as well as stakes winning juvenile and Magic Millions 2YO Classic runner-up She’s Meaner (dam in turn of young Group winning sire Lean Mean Machine).
Breeding: Maurice-Love is Fickle (Redoute’s Choice)
Breeder: Arrowfield Pastoral Pty Ltd, Belford Productions Pty Ltd & Mr H Chambers
Race: VRC Victoria Derby G1 (2500m)
Sold for: $100,000
Sale: 2020 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale
Vendor: Arrowfield Stud (As Agent)
Buyer: Wendy Kelly Racing
Owner(s): A Kheir, KJ Payne, Mrs VM Payne, JA O’neill, V Kheir, AJ Willoughby, GJP Van Ameyden, L Caminiti, JM Simmons, D Edmonds, Carty Racing, DF Degenhardt & D Buzadzic
Trainer(s): Ciaron Maher & David Eustace (Ballarat)