Inverell (Image: Racing Photos)
Young trainer Clayton Douglas admits it's 'unbelievable' that he could have a runner, and a possible contender too, in this year's Penfolds Victoria Derby, in just his second season as a licensed conditioner.
Douglas will saddle up Inverell in Wednesday's Penfolds Victoria Derby Preview, where the winner is exempt from the ballot for the three-year-old staying classic to be held at the end of October at Flemington.
"He's been a new acquisition to the stable, I haven't had him for an overly long time, he's obviously come over from New Zealand, I've sort of had to get to know him quickly and learn a few things about him, but I feel like I've got a pretty good handle on the horse now," Douglas said on Tuesday afternoon.
"To think that I've got a horse that's one of the favourites for the Penfolds Victoria Derby Trial tomorrow, I'm pretty excited about that.
"Going forward, he's an exciting horse to have in the stable."
A son of Melbourne Cup winner Shocking, Inverell won on debut over 1429m at Sale last month, and his breeding and the manner of his win suggests that there are no questions regarding his stamina.
"I feel like he's got a big engine, good set of lungs on him, and feels like the further we get, the better he's going to be, and probably suggested that with his Sale win his first go," Douglas said.
"It took him a little while to get wound up, but once he got wound up in the straight, that last 100m was probably his best part of the race, he ended up winning pretty comfortably, so I'm thinking that 400m step up from the Sale run and with a bit more education under his belt, I think he goes there in good order tomorrow.
"It's a step up in class, he also needs to have improved off that run, which I'm hoping he has anyway."
Should he perform up to market expectations, Douglas says there are a couple of different paths that he could plot towards the 2500-metre contest.
"We could go Super Impose (Stakes), and then Norman Robinson, and then probably into the Derby, or if they end up striking a wet track in Sydney, we could go to a Spring Champion Stakes and then a (Moonee Valley) Vase and then back up into a Derby," he said.
"Tomorrow will tell us a lot as to where he sits in the pecking order, whether he's taken that next step of progression, which he probably has to.
"I'm really happy with the horse, he's there to run well tomorrow."
Inverell races in the famous OTI Racing silks, and the fact that such a high-profile syndicate has entrusted a horse of his quality with Douglas is a vote of confidence in the rookie trainer's ability.
"It's exciting to have these sorts of horses and this support in the stable at such an early part of my career, so I need to capitalise on this now," Douglas said.
"Hopefully, I can keep on getting these horses to their full potential, we can get results on the racetrack, keep training winners, but at the moment I feel like I've got a nice team behind me, and good support, and I'm looking forward to just keep building and growing in the near future."