Gale channelling Myers for Derby prep
By Garrick Knight
Doug Gale is faced with mapping out a rather unconventional path to next month’s Northern Derby with American Me.
The Bulls trainer has hiked north today to line the three-year-old up against the older horses from a stand in the $10,000 Bayleys Thames/Coromandel Pacers Cup, at Cambridge.
It’s not ideal and, he reckons, shouldn’t be happening, but he potentially has no other options.
“When he won at Palmerston North last week, he was only really at the trial stage, fitness-wise, so I was quite happy with how he performed.
“This week he’s better again, but it’s his first time from a stand and I expect he’ll probably be safe but tardily away.
“He’s a sensible horse, but he’s only three.”
Gale was planning to go to the next week’s $20,000 Dinny Johnstone Guineas at Cambridge but at the time of nominating for this week, American Me, as a rating 66, was ineligible for the Guineas race.
“I don’t know who was giving the club advice, but a Guineas should be open to all three-year-olds.”
This week the Club, in consultation with HRNZ’s Handicapper Kevin Smith, shifted that cap out to a rating 70 meaning American Me is now eligible.
But he was already in the fields for this Sunday and Gale is committed to going.
“He’s not screwed down because I am trying to peak him for the Derby in a month’s time and ideally he will have another two starts between now and then.
“He doesn’t go right-handed that well; when we lined him up at Auckland on New Year’s Eve he was a little scratchy for three or four days afterwards.
“It’s just something in his conformation that means he always puts his head to the left and runs a bit to the right.
“He’s comfortable doing that left-handed but the other way becomes a bit uncomfortable for him.
“I’ve had the vets go over him and they can’t find a thing wrong with him.”
Accordingly, the Derby Prelude a week before the big dance at Alexandra Park is not really ideal and Gale is actually thinking of a more alternative route.
He’s taking a leaf out of his fellow Manawatu horseman, Kevin Myers, in preparing for a Derby run.
“If I feel he needs one more run, or if the Waikato Guineas doesn’t go ahead, I’ll take him to Stratford for their Cup race the week.”
That’s right. A 2600-metre standing start on the grass against the older horses six days out.
“I just can’t risk taking him to that prelude and then not being able to work him the following week before the Derby.”
American Me will face stiff opposition in Coromandel Cup from seasoned campaigners Young Conqueror and Mr Kiwi as well as the talented Gambit and last-start Waipa Pacers Cup winner, Mach Little Soaky.