First acceptors stake their claims for Derby and Oaks glory

With 11 days until the Group 1 Penfolds Victoria Derby (2500m) is held at Flemington, 38 horses still have their sights set on the $2 million classic for three-year-olds whilst a total of 22 fillies remain in the running for the $1 million Group 1 Kennedy Oaks (2500m) after first acceptances for both feature races closed at 12pm (AEDT) today.

The Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr partnership would appear to have leading chances in both marquee contests, with last Saturday’s Group 3 Neds Classic (2000m) winner Gunstock currently the bookies’ favourite for the Derby and another last-start winner, Group 3 Schweppes Ethereal Stakes (2000m) heroine Daisies, well fancied to claim the Oaks at Flemington on Thursday, 4 November.

Price is gunning for a second win in the Derby having first won the three-year-old classic in 2015 with Tarzino, who like Gunstock was also sired by Tavistock. Price and Kent hold two entries for the Derby with Jungle Magnate – a son of Tarzino – joining his stablemate in the acceptances list, whilst the stable’s only other representative for the Oaks is their late entrant The Amazonian.

The Oaks market is currently headed by Elusive Express, the sole filly still entered for the father-son training team of Anthony and Sam Freedman. The daughter of Jakkalberry is yet to finish outside the top three in five career starts, and last Wednesday she chased home her fellow Oaks acceptor Yearning in the Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m).

John Hawkes won the 2000 Oaks with Lovelorn, ridden by man-of-the-moment Brett Prebble, and 21 years later the master horseman – who now trains in partnership with his two sons, Michael and Wayne – will be hoping Yearning can deliver more success in Victoria’s pre-eminent race for three-year-old fillies.

Despite having her colours lowered in the Ethereal Stakes, the Danny O’Brien-trained Kapalua Sunset remains on an Oaks path together with her talented stablemates Blackcomb and El Patroness, the daughter of in-demand sire Shamus Award. Like Blackcomb, El Patroness – who ran second behind Gunstock in the Neds Classic – also still holds an entry for the Derby.

To view the full list of first acceptances for the Kennedy Oaks, please click here

James Cummings savoured his first Group 1 triumph in Victoria when Prized Icon won the 2016 Derby, and Bart’s grandson will be hoping to win the time-honoured contest for the first time as Godolphin Australia’s head trainer with either Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes placegetter Alegron or his stablemate Character.

Leviathan owner Ozzie Kheir, who has enjoyed such success with Incentivise, is hoping to continue his unforgettable spring by chasing Derby glory with two more of his purchases, Forgot You (trained by Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young) and Hitotsu (Ciaron Maher and David Eustace).

Forgot You, the Group 2 Stutt Stakes (1600m) winner who caught the eye when finishing strongly in the Neds Caulfield Guineas (1600m), will attempt to deliver a second Derby for Busuttin after he sprang a minor surprise when $12 shot Sangster won the 2011 edition under Hugh Bowman.        

Busuttin and Young also have high hopes for filly Glint Of Hope, the Ethereal Stakes runner-up, who is also entered for the Derby and was sired by Japanese superstar Deep Impact, the world’s most valuable stallion before his passing.   

Like Forgot You, Hitotsu was also running on at the end of the Caulfield Guineas and the powerful Maher and Eustace combination will now aim to win their first Derby with the son of Maurice, another Japanese stallion.

Caulfield Guineas winner Anamoe was a notable withdrawal from the Derby at the first acceptances stage, with Godolphin indicating their star colt is more likely to head to the paddock after his run in this Saturday’s Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m).

To view the full list of first acceptances for the Penfolds Victoria Derby, please click here