Last year’s winning trainer Chris Waller prepared two of the three place-getters in Saturday’s 2022 Queensland Derby trifecta, but not the winner, as the Kiwi raider Pinarello held off Paternal and Caboche in a thriller at Eagle Farm.
Favourite for this year’s Group 1 $1 million Queensland Derby (2400m) was fellow New Zealand-trained Dark Destroyer coming off a Group 3 Rough Habit Plate win in the wet at the same track.
Despite a brave late run making up ground, the beaten top elect could only manage to run fourth as rival Kiwi Pinarello, prepared in Cambridge by Roger James & Robert Wellwood, stole the show thanks to an inspired ride by Leith Innes.
“It was an inspired ride,” co-trainer Roger James told Thoroughbred Central after the race.
“I felt he could win it with the right ride, and he got the right ride.
“I’ve run second and third in this Derby previously. I’ve been placed in Sydney Derbies as well, I’ve won five in New Zealand.
“To win one in Australia is pretty special.”
It was five weeks between runs for the eventual Queensland Derby winner who was last seen taking out a Group 2 over 2100m back home in late April.
Despite some people questioning the decision not to give Pinarello a lead-up run in the Rough Habit, James said the team were always confident the horse would be ready to go fresh after avoiding the wet track and getting conditions to suit on a Good (4) for the Derby.
“Not at all, I thought it was of benefit to be honest,” Roger said.
“On Rough Habit morning, I thought we were going to run on an inevitably bad track. He has been a weak, frail horse this whole preparation.
“He’d been seven weeks prior to his last win and that was quite spectacular that day. I thought ‘we can find a better way to the Derby’.”
Pinarello ($6.50) was drawn off the track out in barrier 17, but Innes produced a great run getting the horse into a mid-field position before moving up three and four deep on the track approaching the the turn for home.
On the straight, the horse charged into the lead and just held on to win by a nose as the Hugh Bowman-ridden Paternal ($5) wore down the winning margin the closing stages.
“He ran a brilliant race. He was there presented to win but all credit to the winner, he was just too strong for us,” beaten jockey Bowman said of the runner-up after the narrow loss.
Fellow hoop James McDonald, who rode last year’s winner Kukeracha for Waller, was also full of post-race praise for the third-placed Caboche.
“He went super. He’s run out of his skin,” he said.
“I had a really good run in transit until the 600 where he he really tightened up – I think a runner in front of me got checked – and just come back in his lap a little bit.
“He finished off really well, he’s going to be a horse for the future. He’ll develop like nothing else and I think he’s a really nice horse.”