THE final of the 1997 Group 3 West Australian Derby, run over 530m at Cannington, simply confirmed the status of boom sprinter Prince Of Tigers as arguably one of the best youngsters in Australia at the time. Less than four months later Prince Of Tigers would indeed confirm his status as the premier sprinter in the country.
A black dog by Malawi’s Prince out of Amazing Osti, Prince Of Tigers was whelped in October 1995. Owned and trained by Jim Robinson, he showed precocious talent and was first produced on the racetrack at just 16 months of age, winning his maiden over 410m at Mandurah by a whopping 17 and a quarter lengths, leading all the way.
Prince Of Tigers won his second race, two weeks later, also over 410m at Mandurah, by almost 13 lengths, again showing great speed from the boxes to lead all the way.
His next test was to be entered for the Mandurah Derby, run over 530m. Prince Of Tigers adapted to the extra distance with little difficulty, using his exceptional early pace to lead all the way for victories in his heat and then the final.
Two more victories over 530m at Mandurah followed, before Robinson took the unbeaten sprinter down to Cannington.
Unfortunately, his seventh start proved to be his first defeat as he was narrowly beaten over the 530m trip.
He quickly bounced back, scoring again at Mandurah and then, on May 3, opening his winning account at Cannington. A week later he blitzed his opposition by 14 lengths over the same course.
Robinson set the 19-month-old black speedster for the West Australian Derby. The heats were run on May 17, and Prince Of Tigers was untroubled to defeat I’ve Got Rhythm by four and a half lengths in his run-off, registering a fast 30.79, easily the fastest time of the meeting.
The Derby final looked to be at his mercy and from box seven Prince Of Tigers gave his supporters no cause for concern. He bounced out in front and simply ran his foes off their legs, passing the judge five and a half lengths clear of Mel’s Sam and Camrun to earn the $10,000 first prize money. His time of 30.52 was a new track record.
Prince Of Tigers had taken his record to 11 wins and one second from just 12 starts. He went on to win five of his next six outings, including the National Sprint Championship final, run over 512m at Angle Park, where he led all the way to hold off the Victorian Chicago Blue.
That victory was his last race for 1997, and he finished with 16 wins and two seconds from his 18 starts.
Unfortunately, injury kept him off the scene until May 1998, but in two return starts he finished eighth and seventh and was retired for good at just 32 months of age.
2016 WA Derby – betting market
Box One – Monaro Monelli – $5
Box Two – Blank Space – $16
Box Three – West On Gaz – $12
Box Four – Eisenhower – $4.20
Box Five – My Silver Chisel – $5
Box Six – Junk Yard Wolf – $31
Box Seven – Shell Shocked – $8 with Sportsbet.com.au
Box Eight – Ramifications – $2.60
1st Res – Lochinvar Style – $26
2nd Res – Topology – $6.50