Ciaron Maher and David Eustace’s recently acquired stayer Hitotsu continues to firm in Ladbrokes betting ahead of this Saturday’s $2 million Victoria Derby at Flemington.
After opening $8.00 when fields were published, the lightly raced three-year-old is now into $6.50 behind the favourite Gunstock ($4.50) and last week’s Moonee Valley Vase winner Forgot You ($4.80).
Hitotsu is having his third run under the care of Maher and Eustace after changing hands from Wendy Kelly’s stable to begin his prep.
Known for their outstanding record with stayers, the son of Maurice wasted no time breaking his maiden at Donald last month where he put nearly two lengths between himself and last week’s Vase second placegetter, Commander Harry.
Hitotsu’s second run came three weeks ago where he finished strongly through the line for fifth behind Anamoe in the Caulfield Guineas.
The step up to 2500m from the mile looks to be the main query, but if he stays the trip, there’s no question he’s a main chance under last week’s Cox Plate winner John Allen.
The other well-supported runner ahead of Saturday’s race is the Tony Pike-trained Tutukaka, who is $9.50 into $8.50.
Unlike a few others, the Kiwi import looks almost certain to see out the trip after winning the Geelong Classic two weeks ago over 2200m, while he’s also got plenty of experience at Flemington having run in the Exford Plate and the Super Impose Stakes.
James McDonald will steer the son of Tavistock and is hoping to make up for lost time after Zaaki was a late scratching on Cox Plate Day last week.
The Derby is one of the few races that has eluded J-Mac, but in general, Derby Day has typically been slim pickings for the champion hoop.
McDonald’s only Group 1 winner on the day came aboard Shillelagh in the 2018 Empire Rose Stakes, but he has a huge opportunity to turn his luck around if he can find some cover early from the wide gate aboard Tutukaka.
Ladbrokes’ complete 2021 Victoria Derby market can be viewed here.