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Tough Derby draw for Warmonger

Tue 28 May 2024

By Craig Brennan, Brad Bishop and Danny Matthews 

Warmonger will have to overcome the widest barrier to win the Queensland Derby.

Blake Shinn is one of Australia's leading riders, but he will need to go to even greater heights if he can land the Queensland Derby on Warmonger.

The Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr-trained three-year-old drew the widest gate in the Group 1 race over 2400 metres at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

Warmonger drew barrier 23 but will start from gate 18 with five emergencies also declared.

Having drawn so wide, it is expected Warmonger will need to be ridden in his recent pattern of getting back beyond midfield, coming with a late surge.

Those tactics were used aboard Warmonger when second in the South Australian Derby over 2500 metres at Morphettville at his most recent outing.

Warmonger had three runs in Adelaide during the carnival and Kent Jnr said a silver lining from the gelding being a get-back and run-on galloper was that he was pulling up so well from each run.

"He's still got plenty of petrol left in the tank and he's been thriving since Adelaide," co-trainer Kent Jnr said.

"He's put on weight, muscle and maintained his summer coat.

"He had two Brisbane-way gallops on the grass before he left and I think the horse is flying."

Kent Jnr is banking on a truer tempo on Saturday after the South Australian Derby was run at a more leisurely pace.

He said third placegetter Air Assault led and dictated the speed after being considered a suspect stayer.

"As soon as Air Assault got the lead, he dropped anchor. They were fearful he wouldn't stay and he went 14 (seconds) to the furlong," Kent Jnr said.

"We took the blinkers off in an effort to make him jump better and settle better, and he raced tractably so they're staying off, and hopefully Blake can find a spot midfield on the big Eagle Farm track."

Warmonger was posted at $8.50 in revised markets after the barrier draw on Tuesday.

Just like her Peter Moody and Katherine Coleman-trained stablemate I Wish I Win in the Group 1 Kingsford Smith Cup over 1200 metres, Autumn Angel came up with barrier one and is the $2.60 Derby favourite ahead of the Chris Waller-trained Tannhauser at $4.20.

Moody and Coleman have also elected to run Saban ($23) who drew gate 16 and will be ridden by Jamie Kah.

Meanwhile, Luke Nolen this weekend runs the risk of being presented with the same issues that confronted James McDonald in the Doomben 10,000 after Tuesday morning's Kingsford Smith Cup barrier draw.

The Victorian jockey goes back aboard I Wish I Win, who will start from the inside alley in the $1 million Group 1 event at Eagle Farm.

That is the gate I Wish I Win started from when a narrow second, after being run down by Bella Nipotina, in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000.

The opportunity for Nolen to reclaim the ride aboard I Wish I Win presented when James McDonald, who has ridden him at his past two starts, was unavailable due to commitments in Japan.

It is the fourth time from his past five starts that I Wish I Win has drawn the inside alley with Nolen having partnered him into third position in the Memsie Stakes and second in The Everest at his only starts last spring.

Coleman, who trains I Wish I Win in partnership with Moody, would have preferred to have seen him drawn a little further off the fence but is happy with the way he has come through the 1200 metres Doomben 10,000.

"He worked on Saturday morning and all reports were very positive, the jockey was very happy with him, it was nice work and his action felt good, which is pleasing going towards this week," Coleman said.

I Wish I Win will start alongside Bella Nipotina, who has drawn gate two, while other key contenders in the 12-horse event include defending champion Think About It (eight), dual Group 1 winners Magic Time (nine) and In Secret (four) and local star Antino (12).

It will be the first time I Wish I Win has run off a two-week break since the Toorak Handicap in the spring of 2022, when he was unplaced as a $2.20 favourite, but Coleman is happy with his condition and said he would spell after the Kingsford Smith Cup.

"It's a little bit a difference, but he's been so lightly raced that I don't think it will be a problem," Coleman said of the five-year-old.

"He still seems well and happy within himself and this option gave him that little bit of a longer break between having to come back and get ready for the spring."