History repeats in Northern Derby

By Michael Guerin

Derby wins don’t come much more popular in the harness racing industry than Cold Chisel’s triumph at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

The second favourite made the most of a perfect Zachary Butcher drive to grab a brave Christopher Dance up the passing lane in the last 50m in the $200,000 Woodlands Stud-sponsored classic, giving trainers Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan back to back wins in the race after Merlin last season.

Both Merlin and Cold Chisel are owned by Dean Shannon, who has always been a popular figure in Australasian harness racing but is now a key figure in New Zealand racing as head of Entain.

“It never gets old,” smiled Shannon after the Derby.

Considering he owns two Derby winners and a handful of classy juveniles including another impressive debut winner Youretheonethatiwant, Shannon always seems pleasantly surprised by his success.

Cold Chisel is following in the footsteps of Merlin but may lack his top-end brilliance. But he is still going to be a serious horse in any race he contests this season as he has manners, speed and stamina and the trainers and driver to best extract those gifts.

A three-year-old who might go even further than Cold Chisel is last night’s Pascoes the Jewellers Oaks winner All You Need Is Me, who never looked in danger of defeat.

The $1.25 favourite led almost every step of her 2700m classic to give young driver Carter Dalgety his second Group 1 win and his 100th domestic success.

“She actually got a little fired up crossing to the lead early so when a couple of others made a move she would over-race again,” said Dalgety.

“That probably took enough out of her that she didn’t run away from them as some people might have thought she would.”

Still, pacing a 1:58.5 mile rate and her last 800m in 55.7 seconds, there was little more All You Need Is Me could do as she followed dam Adore Me and granddam Scuse Me onto the Oaks honours list.

All You Need Is Me and the other fillies now have a slightly tricky gap between last night and the Magness Benrow $140,000 Sires’ Stakes Final back at Alexandra Park on May 17.

“Hopefully if she is aimed at that she can have a small break before the heats,” says Dalgety.

While both Cold Chisel and All You Need Is Me had the marker pegs to guide them to victory the other group race winner last night in Don’t Stop Dreaming did not.

The fact he was able to sit parked for the majority of the Auckland Co-op Taxis 300-3000 Free For All and still easily down stablemate Self Assured suggests those who finished behind him last night will have a hell of a job to turn the tables on him in the $1m Race by Grins on April 12.

He is now the $2.20 favourite for the glamour slot race at Cambridge, with Merlin second favourite and then the Aussies led by Speak The Truth.

His was the performance of the night on a card that also saw All Cashed Up winning the main trot in national-record style off a 20m handicap and Jolimont break 2:39 for 2200m when winning his third on end.

And there was a special moment when Cyclone Jordy won the Breckon Farms Young Guns Colts and Geldings Heat on debut for trainer Tate Hopkins, who now trains in the famous colours of Frank Cooney, who has had so many good young horses win at Alexandra Park over the decades before a retirement forced by poor health.

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