Thirlmere trainer Mark Gatt dominated proceedings at The Gardens yesterday afternoon, securing three of the four National Derby heats and qualifying two further runners for the National Derby and Futurity semi-finals to be conducted next Friday.
Black Road stepped out in heat one of the National Derby and began beautifully from box seven, leading all the way is a solid time of 29.79, recording sizzling early sections of 5.00 and 17.03.
Superstar prodigy Red Road has been firmly supported as the Derby series favourite and didn’t disappoint in heat three, jumping brilliantly from box eight and flying around the two-turn circuit in a near record 29.34. Even more pleasing for Gatt, was his performance after an under-done preparation.
“He went exceptionally well yesterday and was really short of a run. He’s only had a couple of small trials after being injured when he hit the running rail at Wentworth Park, so he can go better.”
After Red Road set the benchmark extremely high, no one expected it to be lowered. But then Gatt’s Paws of Thunder finalist Boyce Road dominated the final heat of the National Derby, edging out Red Road’s time by 0.01, clocking a sensational 29.33.
Exiting from box six, Boyce Road stunned race goers when he took out a heat of the Group One Paws of Thunder two weeks ago, clocking a speedy 29.69 over the 520m distance. Due to time constraints, Gatt didn’t have time to trial Boyce Road at Unibet Gardens and surprised his trainer with a magnificent performance.
“I was surprised how good he went yesterday. He jumped so well from box six and really showed good pace after that. I said to his owner Eddie (Kingswell), that the Paws of Thunder series would bring out the best in him and it has.”
With all three winners coming from the highly successful Collision and Mystic Pace litter, Gatt’s partnership with Oaks Road’s owner Edwin Kingswell have once again produced some exceptional prospects, set to dominate the states biggest races.
Waymore’s Blues took out National Derby heat number two for astute breeder Martin Hallinan, using box one to perfection and clocked a speedy 29.65.
Gatt’s Group winning bitch Ritza Hattie was installed as the $1.50 favourite for heat four of the National Futurity. However she had to settle for second best behind Charlie Gatt’s talented chaser Lani Banarni, who jumped superb from box one and led all the way in flying 29.40, making her the fastest qualifier for next week’s semi-finals. Despite finishing second, Gatt was very pleased with his charges performance and expects plenty of improvement next week.
“She didn’t jump that well yesterday and I was really happy she only finished a length and a bit behind the winner in that time. It seems to take her a couple of runs to really fire, so I’m expecting a lot of improvement next week and hopefully she can qualify for the final.”
Other heat winners of the National Futurity included; Unbelief for Troy Donaldson, clocking 29.65, Push It trained by Dean Swain ran 29.82 and Smashing Sally for Neil Falk recorded 29.87.
“I just hope I can get as many through to the final as I can. It would be a great thrill to have so many there and win. Some great dogs that have qualified for next week so mine really have to be on their game.”
If all goes according to Gatt’s plans, he could have four National Derby finalists and a National Futurity finalist, giving him a great chance of taking out both $75,000 to-the-winner finals on February 7th.