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Felix gets his big chance to Scat

Tue 28 May 2024

By Jordan Gerrans

Felix The Scat is a galloper who has always been floated as a Group 1 contender and his trainer and jockey believe the gelding gets his best chance yet this Saturday.

Despite only being a Class 1 horse from 14 attempts, Felix The Scat has contested six Group-level events in his short career with Saturday’s Derby to be his second at the highest level.

When under the guidance of Peter and Will Hulbert, Felix The Scat headed south for the Champagne Stakes in Sydney where he finished well back in the field on a Soft 7 surface.

The son of Mendelssohn has transferred into the care of champion Brisbane trainer Tony Gollan who has prepared him since late last year.

The three-year-old has progressed through the normal campaign for a male juvenile through the winter, going Guineas into Rough Habit, where he ran credibly on both occasions.

Group 1-winning rider Kyle Wilson-Taylor has been his pilot in his last two starts and thinks a Derby is not out of the question for ‘Felix’.

“It was a really good run in the Rough Habit the other day,” Wilson-Taylor said of the effort where he finished just under three lengths behind the winner Tannhauser.

“He was wide without cover – albeit it may have suited being wider on that day - and fought on strongly.

“He ran well in the Guineas and then stepped it up again in the Rough Habit. I thought his run in the Rough Habit was extremely brave.

“It is much the same field this week in the Derby so hopefully we can position up midfield and he will make his presence felt.

“If he has improved from the Rough Habit then he will be competitive.”

Felix The Scat was one of a glut of Gollan-prepared horses who worked on the course proper on Tuesday morning ahead of the big Group 1 meeting at Eagle Farm.

The bay gelding worked over six furlongs with the jockey known as ‘KWT’ in the saddle and Gollan was pleased with his final hit-out before the 2400 metre event.

“He worked over really nicely and he seems to be peaking up on his prep, which he will have to be as it is a good race,” the champion local trainer said.

“He is in good shape.

“He looks as though he will relish the trip and I would love to see the rest of the week with no rain as I think he is a far better horse on top of the ground.”

Felix The Scat finished strongly behind Tannhauser and Autumn Angel in the Rough Habit which provides Gollan with confidence for the Derby.

“I found him a little bit of a tricky horse when we first got him - if I am being honest - and I did not know where we would get to with him in the winter,” Gollan said.

“I was very happy with his last start for me.

“He is a quirky horse and needs to be ridden in a certain manner and even though he has covered ground the other day in the Rough Habit, I thought he ran to the line really well.

“He probably covered the most ground in the race and he has had a good prep towards the Derby.”

Outside of Tannhauser and Autumn Angel, who are the big guns in the market, Wilson-Taylor believes the Derby field is an even one.

“The Hulberts took him through his grades and they obviously always had this kind of opinion of him,” Wilson-Taylor said of Felix The Scat’s Group 1 ambitions.

“He has really thrived recently and I have been fortunate enough to get on him.”

The bookmakers have Felix The Scat as a $51 chance as of Wednesday afternoon after drawing wide for Saturday. 

Felix The Scat was joined by Gollan stable mates Antino and Comrade Rosa on the course proper on Tuesday morning.

Antino was a brilliant first-up winner in the Group 2 Victory Stakes earlier this month and heads to Saturday’s Kingsford Smith Cup on a path to the Stradbroke Handicap.

Antino was put through some ‘comfortable work’ – Gollan says – after having a jump-out at Doomben last week.

The premier Queensland trainer has long dreamed of claiming the famous Stradbroke title and was quick to point out Antino is his best chance to finally win the prize in many years.

He also notes that Antino was his leading hope in some time last year, but the star gelding just could not force his way into the race.

“He is in great shape and he feels like he has come on significantly since his last run,” Gollan said.

“His action looks great and he looks a happy horse. He is at home in himself, provided everything else measures up – I am very pleased at this point in time.

"He's still got a great winning record, but we all remember the Melbourne spring where he was just so luckless. Maybe it's his time.

"Next week will be his stiffest test. I think that's probably going to be the race of the carnival, the Kingsford Smith in strength wise and depth.

"So, he's going to have earn his stripes to win it but he's going to get there in good shape.

"I'd love to see him tactically be able to travel better mid-race in the Kingsford Smith, which I think we should be able to out to the 1300 metres.

"I'm really happy with him, we've had a month between runs to keep him as fresh and as well as we can and I'm really pleased with the condition he's in."

Gollan is also hopeful of having stable mate Freedom Rally in the Stradbroke and will use the Kingsford Smith as a stepping stone with the gelding.

Antino is a $11 chance in the Kingsford Smith as of Wednesday afternoon while Freedom Rally is considered a $46 hope.