The biggest Derby in Australia each year is the time honored VRC Derby (Aus-I) over 12 1/2 furlongs and held at Flemington racecourse. It’s worth $1.5million these days and was run on Saturday, Nov. 1 in Melbourne.
In fact, so much a part of the Australian racing scene has it been, the Derby dates back over 120 years.
This year, however, a chapter the likes of which we have not seen before was written.
Australia’s supreme 3-year-old Whobegotyou (Street Cry-Temple Of Peace) from the Mark Kavanagh yard, went to the post one of the shortest priced favorite’s in the race’s history. In fact, not since 1972 had there been a shorter priced favorite – Whobegotyou who had easily and brilliantly won his past three starts including the group I Caulfield Guineas over a mile, was returning $1.60 for every $1 bet by post time.
But Whobegotyou, as good as he is, came home gamely for second place.
The race was won by Rebel Raider (Reset-Picholine) a visitor, or raider of some sorts if you prefer, from South Australia. He went to the post at 80-1 and the record books reveal no horse had ever in the long history of the event, won at such a long price.
But that wasn’t where history and first time happenstances ended.
Rebel Raider was ridden by Clare Lindop who became the first female to ever win a group I race during the Flemington Cup carnival, and, naturally, also the first female to ever win the Derby.
“It’s great to do this for all the owners and the team back home (in SA). It’s so exciting,” she said. “And to win a Derby for Leon (McDonald the trainer) and these owners in particular, is easily the greatest thrill of my career. He just gave me the greatest ride, he traveled so well and I was confident when I pulled out to make my run as I knew I had plenty of horse. So I decided to wait a bit longer before going for him and when I did, he raced away.”
Lindop had her horse on the inside of Whobegotyou in the back part of the 15-horse field, on the point of the home turn after traveling off the fence courtesy of a wide draw (15). All eyes were on her and the favorite, when, to everyone’s big surprise, she elbowed her way out and pushed the favorite out of the way. This didn’t unduly upset Whobegotyou who was winding up and commencing his run too.
What did upset him and all watching was the speed in which the winner accelerated. He chimed in with a furlong and a half to go, Whobegotyou was a length and a half behind him, and that’s how they stayed –- streeting the others in the process.
The winner was wearing blinkers for the first time in his nine-start career. Michael Rodd had the hot favorite Whobegotyou parked right on Rebel Raider’s back throughout and stalked him ominously until the home turn where upon he moved up on his outside. That’s when Lindop went to work. Rebel Raider maintained his effort to run out a dominant 2 ½ length winner from a gallant Whobegotyou with another 2 ¼ lengths back to Pre Eminence in third position.
Winning trainer McDonald lavished praise on his stable jockey, particularly her ride on the upset Derby winner. “It was an impressive victory and what a ride,” McDonald said. “She was fired up for the day, and she was very good out there. Clare gives 110% whenever she’s riding.”
McDonald, while over-joyed with the result, was surprised. "I must say that he (Rebel Raider) has really surprised us. I didn’t think anything could beat the favorite and to be honest when we drew wide, I thought there goes whatever chance we had. But the horse is smart, I have always known that and I knew he’d get the distance.”
Whobegotyou’s trainer Kavanagh was generous in defeat, congratulating the winning connections. “Good luck to the other horse and his connections, he was better on the day,” he said. “But, we’re very proud of our horse, he tried very hard.”
Mick Price, trainer of the third placegetter, Pre Eminence (Encosta de Lago-Lady Silver Hawk) said that the bad getaway suffered by his colt put paid to his chances. “Once he jumped ordinary, it stopped him getting the run of the race from barrier one and he got back too far,” he said.
“He ran very well, in fact it may have cost him his nuts, and he might be gelded now.”
Rebel Raider has now won three of his nine starts and earned $1,043,600 in stakes.
The overall time for the race was a steady 2.36.90 and the final three furlongs was run in :35.54. It was a truly run Derby gave every runner their chance.
*As a footnote, Lindop was handed a ride in next Tuesday’s $5million Melbourne Cup on the smart in form stayer Moatize, who will carry a very light weight. He also won on Nov. 1, the group 2 Saab Quality, and rates a good each way chance now he and Lindop are in the field.
Ironically, Lindop replaces Rodd in the Cup on Moatize after Rodd rode him beautifully to win the $250,000 Quality.