Sydney three-year-old Home Ground has confirmed Victoria Derby plans with a narrow win in the Listed Geelong Classic.
Randwick trainer John Sargent selected Wednesday’s race as an ideal lead-up for the gelding to Saturday week’s Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington after his unplaced finish on a wet track in the Spring Champion Stakes.
With Ben Melham aboard, Home Ground just got the better of leader Farooq to win by a nose with two lengths back to Grinzinger Star third.
The top two placegetters have firmed from $51 to $26 for the Derby with Spring Champion Stakes placegetter and Caulfield Classic winner Thinkin’ Big the $2.80 favourite.
“He was only four or five lengths from Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott’s colt (Thinkin’ Big) in the Spring Champion and he’s the horse to beat in the Derby,” Sargent said.
“So that was good form to bring here and he’s shown today he’ll stay
“I thought this was the right lead-up for him after he ran on the heavy track at Randwick.
“It suited him perfectly running into the Derby in 10 days time.
“He’s a grinding type of stayer, not a classy type of stayer.
“But that’s what suits a Derby sometimes. If there’s a chink in the other’s armours, I know he’ll get the trip.”
Sargent said a Derby campaign had been in the plans for Home Ground since he ran fifth in the Group One JJ Atkins Stakes, won by star colt The Autumn Sun, late in his juvenile season in June.