FEW trainers are in as good a form as Peter Ruetschi at the moment, and the Patrick Estate-based mentor will be aiming to extend his hot run with five runners engaged in Thursday night’s Group 2 Queensland Derby heats at Albion Park.
Pictures Pearce (heat one – box seven), Bago Kysam (heat two – box two), Pop The Cork (heat three – box five), Blue I Am (heat four – box six) and Cervelo (heat five – box four) will all represent Ruetschi in the series run over the 520-metre trip.
All eyes will undoubtably be on Pop The Cork, currently $3.70 to win his heat with Bet 365, which will be aiming to bounce back following on from his defeat at his Albion Park race debut last Thursday.
The regally-bred son of Brett Lee and Ima Geisha Girl was only moderately into stride and found nothing but trouble throughout the run, finishing sixth behind Cheeky Fever. Prior to that, Pop The Cork was unbeaten in two starts at Ipswich where he recorded scintillating times of 30.34 and 30.16 respectively.
Ruestchi is hopeful Pop The Cork learned a lot from last week’s run, despite finishing out of the money.
“The trouble he got into last week was absolutely unbelievable. He has a couple of nicks and cuts on him from when he got dragged down. Being a young dog he had never been in that position before — he had a couple of starts at Ipswich where he just bolted in so hopefully he can learn from it.”
Ruetschi acknowledged it was a big ask for Pop The Cork to contest the Derby series after just three starts, but says the dog has endless amounts of ability.
“We know what the dog can do, he is probably one of the best dogs in Australia, but he is very young,” Ruetschi said.
“ If Pop The Cork got a clear run, on his ability, I think he would go close to breaking the track record, but he needs a bit more time to mature and after this we will probably just go through the grades with him and get him ready for some nice races down the track.”
Pop The Cork’s biggest threat in the race appears to be Dawkins Bale, currently $1.85 with Bet 365, which recently finished second in the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg at Wentworth Park.
Away from Pop The Cork, Ruetschi rates Bago Kysam ($5) as another one of his live chances. The fawn son of Cosmic Rumble and Oxley Falcon has been unlucky from awkward draws in recent weeks, but looks suited back to the inside where he has recorded 29.93 over the track and distance in the past.
“He is probably one of my better chances. He wants an inside draw and he is a very good young dog.
“I gave him a couple of 600s just to see how he would go and he ran record sectionals for his first two sectionals, but he got a little bit tired. In the long run it was all for the Derby, I did it to try and get him a little bit stronger for the Derby heats.
“He had no luck last week but hopefully he will go a bit better this week. He is very strong and if he can just be within a couple of lengths of the leaders early he will be right in the race.”
Of his other charges, Pictures Pearce is rated a $31 shot against the likes of Dyna Villa, while Blue I Am and Cervelo are $12 and $11 with Bet 365 respectively.
Ruetschi is hoping for a big night this Thursday. In addition to the Queensland Derby heats he also has the $1.70 favourite Over Here (box six) engaged in the Group 2 Bogie Leigh Futurity.
The daughter of Don’t Knocka Him and prolific producer Where Are You was stunning in her qualifier last week, recording an emphatic 29.84 victory from box four.
Despite moving out to box six for the $40,000-to-the-winner final, she still remains the one to beat.
“She is unbelievable – she could be anything. She is a hard chaser and she is doing everything right.
“She is a fantastic box dog at the moment, she just comes out beautifully.
“We have had a little bit of a setback this week, she had a little bit of a toe injury, but she should be 100% by Thursday night.”