Almost 30 years after Brixton Town couldn’t finish in the same postcode as Beau Zam, Stephen Autridge hopes Gingernuts can close in on the Australian Derby with an impressive run in the Rosehill Guineas.
The three-year-old gelding arrived in Sydney from New Zealand on Monday, fresh from a victory in the Group One $1 million New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie that convinced connections to chase the Australian $2 million equivalent at Randwick on April 1.
A trial to aid to the acclimatisation process was an option, but Autridge is content to use the Rosehill Guineas, one of five Group One races on Saturday’s card, as preparation.
Autridge, a former jockey who trained out of Rosehill with Paul Sutherland in the late 1980s, was confident Gingernuts could handle the 2000m assignment and had no concerns about Sydney’s persistent showers.
Gingernuts has already won twice on slow tracks back home, similar footing to a heavy classification in Australia.
Rosehill fluctuated between a heavy 8 and 9 on Wednesday and with more rain forecast before race day, the going is certain to be tough.
“We’re quite lucky the bad weather conditions aren’t a real concern to us. An Aussie heavy is like our slow and we’re all right on slow,” Autridge said.
His co-trainer Jamie Richards is overseeing preparations and the feedback was positive after work on the all-weather track at Randwick on Wednesday.
Barrier four was also not a concern for the Guineas’ $6 joint second favourite with Prized Icon behind Inference ($3.60).
“If he jumps well he’ll be in a nice spot, if he jumps slow he’s going to be back. He races good either way,” Autridge said.
He will join Richards in Sydney if Gingernuts “looked like a Derby horse” on Saturday.
That appears inevitable so Autridge can look forward to improving on Brixton Town’s effort in the 1988 AJC Derby, in which he finished second, 5-1/2 lengths behind Beau Zam.
Autridge, who is also striving to bounce back from a disappointing spring campaign in Melbourne with Xtravagant, was reluctant to rank Gingernuts among the best horses he has prepared after just seven starts – and four wins.
“I’ve trained a lot of very good horses but this one has just jumped out of the ground in the last month. We don’t know where it’s going to end, so it’s very hard to say,” he said.
“I haven’t had many second favourites in our Derby and win, and be a favoured runner in an Australian Derby.”
Gingernuts is also alongside Prized Icon as second favourite ($8) for the Australian Derby, Inference heads the market at $6.No tags for this post.