John Allen’s big week continued at Flemington on Saturday with a win in the $2 million Victoria Derby (2500m) aboard Hitotsu.
Seven days removed from a win aboard State of Rest in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate, the Irish jockey was happy to stay patient on the well-backed favourite, coming from dead last at the turn to finish first past the post.
Ciaron Maher and David Eustace’s lightly-raced three-year-old was a market mover earlier in the week, but received a massive push before the jump, firming from $5.00 into $4.00 favouritism.
Given their reputation in staying races, punters clearly wanted to be with the Maher and Eustace galloper, despite the fact he was stepping up to 2500m from the mile after running fifth to Anamoe in the Caulfield Guineas.
“He’s an interesting horse. Took a look time to come to hand and we had to be very patient, we knew the ability was there but he just hadn’t quite got there” co-trainer David Eustace told Racing.com.
The colt by Maurice was having just his sixth start on Saturday and only his third run under the care of the Maher and Eustace team.
Hitotsu changed hands from Wendy Kelly’s stable at the beginning of the spring, and it didn’t take long for Maher and Eustace’s expertise to shine through in his first start at Donald, where he won his maiden by nearly two lengths.
“He just absolutely thrived off his Donald win, obviously it was only a maiden, but the way he came through it forced our hands to the Guineas,” Eustace went on to say.
Traditionally, horses stepping up from the mile don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to the Derby, but Eustace went on to say they never considered running him again after the Guineas.
“There was never an option to run again. He’s only a lightly-framed athletic horse and we backed his ability to stay,” Eustace added.
For Allen, the win marked Group 1 No. 14, while it was also the 10th for the Maher and Eustace team in their short time together as co-trainers.
Alegron, saddled by the in-form Brett Pebble, finished a clear second, followed by $7.00 placegetter Teewaters, who enjoyed a lovely run in transit with plenty of cover.
The complete 2021 Victoria Derby finishing order can be viewed here.