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Gingernuts zeroes in on Derby double

A holiday meeting at tiny Te Teko in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty offered ample food for thought for Gingernuts’ trainers and connections.

The gelding still had a question mark hovering over his racing prowess when he lined up in a benchmark 65 worth a mere $8000, but after taking the biscuits on January 30 expectations have grown exponentially.

Two months later Gingernuts finds himself at Randwick, the location of his home away from home, and the scene of the greatest challenge of his eight-race career – justifying favouritism for Saturday’s $2.1 million Australian Derby.

Gingernuts has settled into Sydney with co-trainer Jamie Richards since an imposing win in the New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie on March 4 warranted a trip across the Tasman.

Richards, who trains with former jockey Stephen Autridge at Matamata, pinpointed Te Teko as the race that put Gingernuts on the map.

“We really liked him as a two-year-old but in the spring we got held up with a little bit of an injury and that probably let us down over the New Year period.

“Then he won a 65 (benchmark) and we knew we were on the right track.”

Richards and Autridge then challenged Gingernuts to step up in class and distance for the Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie, a task he met with ease before winning the New Zealand Derby at the same track.

Gingernuts made his Australian debut in the Rosehill Guineas on March 18 and proved his versatility on the heavy track.

“He’s grown in confidence. He’s a very happy horse and he’s in great form. We’ve got the right form line to be competitive,” Richards said.

Gingernuts worked solidly at Randwick on Tuesday morning with barrier 12 in the 13-strong Derby field as Richards’ only slight concern.

“In previous starts he’s been slow away from the barrier. If he jumps well we’d like to try and take a spot. If he jumps bad you’ve just go to go back and hopefully get in the clear in plenty of time.”

Meanwhile, Richards said Sydney’s improving weather would suit despite New Zealand horses generally being pigeonholed as wet track specialists.

“He’s versatile. A wet track probably slows down some of the others,” he said.

“He’s probably been a little arrogant in some of his runs. He’s got to the front and pricked the ears and pulled up a bit but if something goes with with he’ll certainly fight right to the line.”

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