Hitotsu is out to make the history books once again backing-up from a win fresh in the Australian Guineas as the punters’ pick heading north for the Group 1 $2 Bentley Australian Derby (2400m) on Saturday.

Hitotsu | Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos | Horseracing.com.au

Australian Guineas champion Hitotsu is in Sydney as the hot favourite for Saturday’s 2022 Australian Derby. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos.

The Ciaron Maher & David Eustace-trained Maurice colt is one of a capacity field of three-year-olds engaged in this year’s Australian Derby, running over the mile and a half on a predicted Heavy Randwick track on Day 1 of The Championships.

Drawn in barrier four for jockey John Allen, Hitotsu is out to hand both stable and hoop back-to-back wins in the classic following the success of Explosive Jack last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.

After his rise through the ranks in the spring, which culminated with a big Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) win at Flemington, Hitotsu made history winning the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) back at headquarters first-up.

He now looks to become the first horse to complete the Australian Guineas – Australian Derby double without a run in between and the fourth overall to win both races joining: Mahogany (1994), Gold Guru (1998) and the filly Shamrocker (2011).

Mahogany (1993/94) is also the last horse to have won the Victoria Derby – Australian Derby double that Hitotsu is out to emulate this season.

The stable has kept to the proven formula with Saturday’s favourite, Hitotsu having backed-up from a Caulfield Guineas fifth over the mile to win the VRC Derby last prep.

He again goes from 1600m to the mile and a half this weekend and sits top of the Australian Derby odds at $3.50 through Ladbrokes.com.au.

Incredibly for the Melbourne-based Allen, Saturday is his chance to secure an 11th Derby success.

The Irishman is a 16-time Group 1 winner in Australia, eight of which came in various Derby races around the country with success in the: South Australian Derby (4), Victoria Derby (2), Queensland Derby (1) and Australian Derby (1) all since 2016.

He is also a two-time Tasmanian Derby winning jockey and is confident heading into the weekend.

“I just think he’s a very good horse and when you have a horse of his ability, he can do things like that,” Allen told the media this week speaking of Hitotsu going from 1600m to 2400m.

“He’s done nothing wrong in his last couple of preparations.

“He’s been trained very well but he keeps delivering on the track.”

The only query will be the likely mud track with Hitotsu having had just one run on anything worse than Good when winning the Australian Guineas on a Soft (6).

“It’s hard to know (how he’ll handle the track),” Allen said.

“I don’t believe I’ve ever galloped him on a really wet track.

“I have nothing to say he will or won’t handle it to be honest.”

There are two other runners under double-figures in the latest markets with Forgot You ($7) coming off a third to Anamoe in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas over 2000m and the New Zealander Regal Lion ($7) on the quick back-up.

The Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman-trained Regal Lion was third in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby over the 2400m across the Tasman in early March before his eye-catching second in Monday’s rescheduled Group 2 Tulloch Stakes (1850m).

The Tulloch Stakes traditionally runs over 2000m at Rosehill, but with last Saturday’s Tancred Stakes Day meeting a wash-out, it was postponed and held over the amended distance at Newcastle.

There will be just five days between it and the Derby now for Regal Lion and the Godolphin-raced winner Character who also backs-up as a $10 chance to complete the double.

Regal Lion’s co-trainer Murray Baker meanwhile chases his sixth Australian Derby win and third in partnership with Forsman after recent victories with Jon Snow (2017) and Quick Thinker (2020).

The 2022 Australian Derby is scheduled as Race 7 at 5:55pm (AEDT) on Saturday’s 10-race Randwick card.

About The Author

Lucy Henderson

Lucy is an experienced horse racing journalist that has been a crucial member of the horseracing.com.au team for the better part of a decade. She has taken great delight in covering champion mares Black Caviar and Winx throughout their careers and always has a soft spot for a winning filly.