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No distance disadvantage for Encoder on Derby Day

Wed 5 June 2024

By Andrew Smith

Lee Freedman is hoping Encoder can finally deliver on his staying potential in Saturday’s Queensland Derby.

The son of Encryption will head to the $1 million race at Eagle Farm with a point to prove.

Encoder took out the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes at Eagle Farm in December, scoring his third career win by a length in the 2100m outing.

Hopes were high for the three-year-old ahead of The Wave on the Gold Coast in January, before finishing second behind Arts Object in the boil over win.

Returning from a spell after 15 weeks, Encoder has so far come up short – he finished 11th in a first-up run in the Listed Daybreak Lover, before finishing well back in 13th in the Queensland Guineas.

A step up to 2180m at Ipswich netted a better result of 6th last week, and Freedman is confident the 2400m trip will give the gelding an edge this weekend.

“You don’t really know until you run them, but he gives every impression that 2400m will suit him,” Freedman said.

“When he won the Grand Prix, he finished that off well at the 2100m.

“The slight advantage he’s got is that he’s been to the 2100 trip this prep, whereas a lot of those horses haven’t.

“It’s only a little thing but could be some consequences in the end.

“He only ran last Wednesday but he did a good bit of work this morning and he’s really fit and well.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, Encoder was a $51 shot for the Derby, and will jump from barrier 18 with Damien Thornton on board.

Most of the money currently sits with the Peter Moody-Katherine Coleman galloper Autumn Angel ($2.60).

The Freedman stable has also nominated exciting filly Showdra for next weekend’s Oaks but is enjoying a quieter winter campaign in 2024.

The veteran horseman was still keen to laud the quality of fields for this year’s Queensland Racing Carnival.

“I think the powers that be are making a good fist of it - we’ve got to keep coming up with innovations to keep getting those horses to keep coming up here,” Freedman said.

“Most of that’s based around prizemoney so they seem to have the answer there.

“It’s a great time of year.”

The carnival heads to Eagle Farm this Saturday for Derby Day, with the card also including the $1 million Group 1 Kingsford Smith Cup.