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TV3 New Zealand Derby field clarity by weekend

TV3 New Zealand Derby field clarity by weekend

Auckland, 20 February 2013 - Two of the stars vying for Group I $750,000 TV3 New Zealand Derby favouritism may have vastly differing chances of even making the Ellerslie classic.

But the final field for the great race should be a lot clearer by this weekend.

Valbuena threw the cat among the Derby pigeons with his 34-1 win in the Avondale Guineas at Ellerslie on Sunday, downing Derby favourites Castlzeberg and Habibi.

But while that has seen him shorten into $6 with the TAB for the Derby, Valbuena may not even make the race.

He is understood to be the centre of a large overseas offer and could be sold by racing supremos, the Vela brothers.

While their Pencarrow Stud is one of the largest breeding and racing operations in New Zealand, the Velas have a policy of selling their colts and keeping their fillies.

So whether Velbuena will be sold, and most likely miss the Derby, will not be known until at least Friday.

If the new kid on the block starts in the Derby he will need a new rider, as last Sunday’s successful hoop James McDonald will miss the day because of commitments in Sydney.

“It is a real shame because I’d love to be on him if he starts,” said McDonald.

“TV3 Derby Day is one of the greatest racedays of the year but I will definitely be back for the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup at Ellerslie on March 6.”

While Valbuena’s date with Derby destiny is unsure, flying filly Fix is all but a certain starter.

Her trainer Ken Kelso says Fix has progressed well since winning the Sir Tristram Classic at Te Rapa and unless something changes in the next week, her connections will pay the $22,500 late entry fee next week.

“At this stage she is going to the TV3 New Zealand Derby,” said Kelso.

“And unless something we don’t expect happens, we won’t change our minds on that.”

Fix leads the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year series and could secure that prestigious title by winning the New Zealand Oaks at Trentham two weeks after the Derby.

So Kelso has not ruled out a crack at the classic double.

“She will remain in the Oaks nominations as well at this stage.”

Fix is now listed in the TAB markets for the TV3 New Zealand Derby at $6, meaning the top two fancies in the race are fillies.

Habibi remains the $3.50 top elect even after her first career defeat in the Avondale Guineas.

She didn’t have the smoothest of runs over the last 800m but found the line well and should strip a lot fitter for the Derby, especially as Sunday’s race was her first since New Year’s Day.

Castlzeberg, who was taken on in front on Sunday but fought gamely into second, is the $8 fourth fancy with the TAB and looks great each way value.

The countdown’s to New Zealand’s richest week of racing is on!

The Auckland Cup Week Breakfast With The Stars will be held at Ellerslie Racecourse on Tuesday 26th February. It is at this event where some of the ‘stars’ of New Zealand’s richest racing event will enjoy a training gallop before Auckland Cup Week begins on the Saturday. This event is free for the public to attend with breakfast items and hot drinks available for purchase.

The Group I $750,000 TV3 New Zealand Derby is the headline act of TV3 Derby Day (the opening ‘act’ to Auckland Cup Week 2013) and is set to be held at Ellerslie Racecourse on Saturday 2nd March. This year’s TV3 New Zealand Derby is one of New Zealand’s richest races, with a total prize purse of $750,000.

www.ellerslie.co.nz

ENDS

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