Day At The Track

Menin Gate drawn to lead and win

07:48 PM 15 Jul 2015 NZST
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
Larry Eastman and Chris Alford after Menin Gate's Victoria Derby win at Melton.
Larry Eastman and Chris Alford after Menin Gate's Victoria Derby win at Melton.

Advantage Menin Gate.

The Larry Eastman-trained pacer – Victoria’s newest “people’s horse” – yesterday drew a plum gate for Saturday night’s Group 1 Queensland Derby at the harness racing meeting at Albion Park, giving him an early victory against his biggest dangers.

The Victoria Derby, Vicbred Super Series and last-start Gold Coast Derby winner will come out of gate two in the $150,000, 2680-metre three-year-old classic, and TAB fixed odds bookies have reacted by installing him a prohibitive $1.40-into-$1.35 favourite.

“I’m happy,” Eastman said of the barrier draw, which also saw stablemate filly Morton Plains draw gate nine – following Menin Gate out early.

Eastman, who hadn’t trained a Group 1 winner prior to this season but now has four of them, said he was “stoked” with Menin Gate’s win at Albion Park last weekend in 1:55.1 (54.7).

“He’s really come on,” the trainer said, pointing out a patient, carefully planned preparation was paying dividends."

“We stayed home from Sydney (the New South Wales Derby) and gave him five weeks out instead because he’s a big, immature horse."

“That’s made a real difference.”

Any question marks over the son of Somebeachsomewhere’s gate speed have disappeared in recent times, Eastman’s addition of block blinkers to the gelding sharpening him right up.

“He’s been coming off the arm really good since we changed his head gear around,” Eastman said.

Menin Gate wore the block blinkers and won as a two-year-old and is clearly relishing them now.

Meanwhile, Menin Gate’s Birchip owners are rejoicing in the success of the “Birchip Bull”, as he is also known.

In fact the whole town is.

Local priest Father Eugene even halted his service last weekend temporarily to inform the congregation: “Menin Gate just won”. The people erupted in applause.

“He is the people’s horse, I suppose,” Eastman acknowledged.

“He’s got that ring about him now and it’s good for him and it’s good for the sport.”

Morton Plains will be driven by Gavin Lang on Saturday night and is a $21 shot early with the TAB.

“She went really good (last Saturday night in the Queensland Oaks when second)."

"She is probably nearing the end of this preparation,” Eastman said.

“If things happen and if someone goes crazy and turns it into a last-man-standing affair, then she can run into it."

“She lives in Menin Gate’s shadow a bit, but if I didn’t have Menin Gate I’d still be absolutely stoked to just have her.”

Other Victorians in the Derby are Craig Demmler-trained My Kiwi Mate (Jodi Quinlan to drive) from gate seven, who is in ripping form and will be strong late over what looks a suitable trip, Burnaholeinmypocket from the Andy Gath yard (Kate Gath to drive), who ran below-par last weekend but was a Group 1 winner the start prior to that, and consistent Mister Wickham for trainer Lee Evison and driver Greg Sugars (gate 12).

Cody Winnell

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article: