Trainers eye big future for Derby contenders

SATURDAY'S Victoria Derby offers a $900,000 winner's purse and further rewards the victor with the distinction of being a group 1 classic winner. But the spoils of victory on Saturday run even deeper in the mind of Villain's trainer Danny O'Brien.

"This race could really launch him," the Flemington trainer said yesterday. "He's a really nice horse with a big future, but I suppose the Derby is a big crossroad in his career.

"He has a genuine turn of foot, so without getting ahead of ourselves, he could develop into a top class mile (1600 metres), mile-and-a-quarter (2000 metres) weight-for-age horse next year."

O'Brien's hopes for Villain took a small dive yesterday when the colt drew barrier nine in the 13-horse field for Saturday's $1.5 million Derby.

But it was not so much his horse's draw, rather that of favourite Marching that most concerned O'Brien.

"I obviously would have preferred to draw where Marching did (barrier two) and have him draw where we did," he said.

"With that draw, Marching is the horse to beat you'd think. He'll get a lovely run and he's got that sprint that makes him very dangerous."

Villain emerged onto the Derby scene just four weeks ago when he followed a defeat in a lowly maiden at Sale with a brilliant last-to-first effort to win the listed Super Impose Stakes over 1800 metres at Flemington.

He followed that run with a determined effort in the group 2 Norman Robinson Stakes over 2000 metres two weeks ago.

O'Brien said he liked the fact that Villain was returning to his home track for the Derby after he was beaten as favourite at Caulfield.

"In my horse's favour, I think he's the only horse in the field to have won at Flemington, and he'll appreciate the wide open spaces," he said. "He's a really nice-action horse and being by Carnegie, who's produced Derby winners, I don't think the trip will be a problem."

by Andrew Eddy - The Age

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