Governor gets his chance
By Adam Hamilton
THE absence of two of Australasia’s best three-year-olds has made life a lot easier for local star Governor Jujon in Saturday night’s Group 2 South-East Derby at Albion Park.
Victoria and NSW Derby placegetter Perfect Stride was all set to tackle the Derby, but a below-par Menangle run last weekend prompted trainer-driver Anthony Butt to change plans and stay in NSW.
And last season’s NZ 2YO of the Year, One Change, was only due to arrive in Queensland this morning (Wednesday) with stablemate Turn It Up and Dina Bolt and didn’t accept to run in the Derby first-up from a spell.
So Governor Jujon, already a winner of 14 of his 19 starts, is a $1.60 Aussie TAB favourite to score his biggest win so far from a suitable gate five.
Grant Dixon’s latest young star has won all five starts this campaign and is by far the class runner having already run second in the Victoria Derby earlier this season.
But Dixon will know better than to take anything for granted given the best young horse he’s trained, Colt Thirty One, was beaten into second spot in his hometown Queensland Derby two years ago.
Many of Governor Jujon’s major rivals this week are fillies, but they have a mixed history against the boys in Queensland’s major Derby, which is relevant as this effectively replaces the COVID-impacted Queensland Derby.
The last filly to win the Queensland Derby was former Kiwi star Oaxaca Lass way back in 2002.
But fillies have run well in the past three Queensland Derbys. Princess Tiffany ran fourth to Self Assured last year, Fame Assured was third to Master Moonlite in 2018 and Shartin ran second to The More The Better in 2017.
Amazingly, Shartin was sold to North American and gone to be one of the greatest mare of all time. Last year became only the fifth mare to be crowned US Pacer of the Year.
The fillies in Saturday night’s Derby are Jenden Strike, My Ruby Sunshine, Fond Memories and Pelosi, who ran first, second, third and fifth respectively in last week’s South-East Oaks.
Jenden Strike dug deep to win last week for father-and-son team, Chris and Anthony Frisby.
“She’s finally drawn a good barrier in a big race,” Chris Frisby said “She led at her first start at Parkes from memory, but I can’t recall having the drawn to try and lead since then.
“She’s come through last week’s win really well and we’ll press forward from the draw, but Governor Jujon is a really nice horse, clearly the best horse in the race, and he’s going to take plenty of beating.”