Sebring Colt Takes Aim at Victoria Derby

Mark Smith - Saturday July 20

The two-year-old Sebring colt Huntly Castle earned a ballot-free exemption for the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) following a dominant performance in Saturday's Byerley Handicap (1800m) at Flemington.

Ridden by Jye McNiel, the Lindsay Park-trained colt weaved between runners to defeat the Foxwedge filly Marndarra by one and a quarter lengths with the Hinchinbrook filly Presently a further three and a quarter lengths back in third. (photo

Huntly Castle was coming off a maiden win over 1600 metres at Bendigo at his third start and co-trainer Ben Hayes believes the derby distance will not be a worry.

"He looks like a horse that will really run out that distance," Hayes said.

"So, we're going to put him aside and head towards the derby.

"When they put on these longer races like this for the two-year-olds it really helps us trainers to develop our stayers.

"This is a good example here. He's going to be a real derby chance now, so we've just got to wrap him in cotton wool and get him to the derby now."

On face value, Huntly Castle's pedigree does give a great deal of confidence in his staying prowess, but it does not require too much digging to find some hope.

The Devitt and Gordon families homebred is the second foal of the tough Hussonet (USA) mare Friday Hussy who won five races in Melbourne from 1900m to 2040m.

Her first foal Friday Funday broke his maiden over 2030m at Werribee and she is a sister to 5-time winner At The Weekend who placed in the Tasmanian Oaks. Friday Hussy is a sister-in-blood to the 2008 Australian Horse Of The Year Weekend Hussler and her dam Free Friday (Helissio) is a out of the Group III Angus Armansco Stakes winner Not on Friday, a daughter of the Melbourne Cup winner At Talaq, who placed in the Group 1 One Thousand Guineas and Group 1 South Australian Oaks.

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