The Mick Price and Michael Kent Jr trained Gunstock is Victoria Derby bound following a comfortable two-length win in Saturday’s Neds Classic over 2000m at Caulfield.
The lightly-raced three-year-old was installed as the $3.80 favourite in the market after winning his maiden at Flemington second-up and will now head to the $2 million feature on October 30 as a $6.00 chance.
With a slow tempo set from the front, Jye McNeil did a fantastic job of stalking the pace before pressing the button down the straight.
The son of Tavistock let down beautifully over the final furlong and surged clear at the 100m mark to go on and win by two lengths over the leader El Patroness, who won their previous meeting two weeks ago in the Super Impose at Flemington.
Michael Kent said after the race that he’s always had a big opinion of the horse and that a return to Headquarters is definitely on the table.
“He wants further and a big track. Blinkers on today and he didn’t overdo it which is good,” Kent told Racing.com.
“From the inside draw, Jye had him in a lovely spot. I’ve always loved this horse, he’s a beautiful colt and hopefully we can get him ready for the Derby.”
Gunstock ran well on debut at Donald earlier in the year for fourth but was immediately sent back to the paddock in time for the spring.
He resumed to win his maiden on debut at Cranbourne over the mile last month, before returning to finish less-than half-a-length third in the Super Impose.
Kent went on to say that the decision to put the blinkers on ahead of the Derby was necessary if he is to handle the step up in distance now.
“It’s the right time, because you have to go up in distance a fair bit now to the Derby 2500m, so we had to have a look and see if that worked or not, but they do work for this breed a lot and he’s a very laid-back customer,” Kent said.
Six winners of the Neds Classic have gone on to win the Derby, with Polanski being the most recent to do so back in 2013.
El Patroness stuck on well for second after taking the lead rounding the turn, while Teewaters enjoyed the gun run along the rail to get up for third.
Ladbrokes’ All-In 2021 Victoria Derby market is available here.