On a Derby Day meeting full of highlights, the final race of the day was won by arguably the nation’s most exciting horse – Deep Field (owned by Alan Bell and Kia Ora Stud).
The winning margin was only a length and the time for the Flemington 1200m was only 1m 11.05s but Deep Field’s win in the Group 2 $300,000 Tab.com.au Stakes (1200m) was quite outstanding.
But Team Hawkes hinted there was very little chance of Deep Field backing next Saturday against boom stablemate Chautaqua, Lankan Rupee, Buffering and others in an all-star Group 1 $1 million Darley Classic (1200m).
“We don’t make decisions on raceday but Deep Field has been out here racing while Chautauqua is at home in his box ‘smoking his pipe’,” co-trainer Wayne Hawkes said.
“Deep Field is in his first preparation, he is still very immature, and he will be a even better horse next year.”
After winning his only four starts in Sydney and the provincials by big margins, his Melbourne debut was one of the most anticipated races on the program.
Deep Field didn’t disappoint. He jumped quickly, stroke across to the outside rail but then had his head turned to the crowd for the first 800m, almost as if he was mocking his rivals.
Driefontein, a tough Group 1-winning mare, moved alongside the hot favourite and for a few strides, Deep Field looked into deep trouble.
But Deep Field ($1.60 favourite) responded to the challenge and forged away from a game Driefontein ($21) to win by a length with In Cahoots ($9,50) another one-and-a-half lengths away third.
“It was a great effort first time down the straight,” jockey Dwayne Dunn said.
“I took him to the stand side as I thought it would help him a bit but the crowd is right on top of you and the wind is so strong.
“I thought he would drop them off more quickly than he did but when he was strong on the line. He’s a very promising horse.’