Victorian colt Levendi put in a terrific Australian Derby trial with a neck win in the Group 2 $200,000 Tricolours Racing & Syndications Tulloch Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill today.
The Peter Gelagotis trained three year old sat on the pace and was strong to the line to run down the James Cummings trained Astoria ($10) with third placegetter Weather With You ($21) holding on after setting the pace.
Levendi was coming off a last start second to Cliff’s Edge in the Group 2 $200,000 Hacer Group Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) at The Valley on March 16 with today’s winning jockey Mark Zahra also in the saddle on that occasion.
Zahra had Levendi ($4 favourite) travelling in third position, just behind the two leaders Weather With You and the outsider of the field Yuralla Boy ($201), but had to dig deep in the straight to run down Astoria who had dashed to the front at the 250m mark.
“He didn’t make it easy for me. Halfway up the straight I thought he was complacent and happy running second but I got stuck into him and the Gelagotis boys had him nice and fit. He was strong over the line,” Zahra said.
“He switched off in the run. He relaxes really well. If he wasn’t going to get the (Derby) trip I think he would have run second but he toughed it out really well.”
Levendi was strong at the end of the 2000m of the Tulloch Stakes and put himself into contention for the Group 1 $2m Harrolds Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on the day one of The Championships next Saturday.
Gelagotis is in Dubai to saddle up Illustrious Lad in the Group 1 US$1m Al Quoz Sprint (1200m) at Meydan tonight and was quick to tweet their thoughts after the win of Levendi.
“Congratulations to all involved with the sensational win of Levendi in the Group 2 Tulloch Stakes ! A huge talent who has done the stable proud & what a ride by Zahra – rode it like the best horse,” Gelagotis Racing tweeted.
Bookies at Ladbrokes.com.au have responded by shortening Levendi up from $17 to $11 for the Australian Derby while the Victoria Derby winner Ace High remains the $5 favourite.
The Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young trained Belfast ($12) also put in an eye catching Australian Derby trail, coming from last to finish just behind the placegetters in fifth position.
Belfast is also marked as an $11 chance for the Australian Derby.