Cold Chisel gets pre-Derby win over arch rival

By Michael Guerin

The barrier draw could decide the Northern Derby in three weeks time.

That was the only conclusion from the $60,000 Alabar Classic at Alexandra Park on Friday, which even after a mid-race curveball provided the quinella everybody expected.

Cold Chisel led, trailed and then passing-laned his way to victory over Chase A Dream, who was not rushed early but secured the one-one without effort.

Once Cold Chisel held Vessem at the the start the race could have become a procession but Tony Herlihy threw a cat among these pigeons when he launched Major Hot from last and wrestled the lead at the 1000m.

That appeared to give the advantage to the stalking Chase A Dream but while he looked the winner when he peeled out at the 350m he couldn’t get enough of a break on Cold Chisel before the passing lane presented and he shot through, looking sharper than last start.

The Herlihy move added merit to Cold Chisel’s win as he had to work, only briefly, twice but was still a clear points victor over Chase A Dream.

The market for the Derby on March 22 now has Chase A Dream as the $2.20 favourite and Cold Chisel at $3.50 and whoever draws to have the more options, particulaly getting up against the marker pegs where most Derbys are won from, will be the post-draw mover.

Later in the night the Oaks market also got a tune up after Duchess Megxit beat the older mares in a four-horse last race.

She mucked around and chucked in the odd skip to thrill punters who took the $1.25 in a race robbed of much interest because Coastal Babe was scratched earlier in the week.

Coming out of the one-one at the 300m, Duchess Megxit flattened out beautifully for Zachary Butcher, looking her happiest when she going full speed, which resulted in a personal last 800m of 55.4 seconds.

She is now the $1.75 favourite for the Oaks, which is the same night as the Derby.

Her win provided trainers Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan, along with Butcher driving, a double for the night, one they would love to turn into a treble with Merlin in the A$250,000 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle on Saturday night.

Friday night’s main trot gave All Cashed Up a chance to show his dynamic speed when he blew past his rivals in the straight to win after a well-timed Crystal Hackett drive.

“That is his big asset, his speed,” said co-trainer Michelle Wallis.

“We got him after he injured himself in Australia and wasn’t as good left-handed anymore this was the ideal track for him.

“He finds it hard to win because he is so often off big backmarks but I think he can go a big race in some of the better trots on this track when he gets to settle a bit handier for once.”

Also impressive on Friday night was last season’s talented three-year-old Jolimont, who led throughout to win his seasonal debut with a 56.2 second last 800m.

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