The Danny Walker-trained On Display is likely to be a late nomination for Sunday’s Group 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) after his final serious hit-out on Tuesday morning.
Based in South Auckland, Walker said his training operation hasn’t been affected too much by entering Alert Level 3 COVID-19 restrictions, but racing this weekend, in particular when and where the $1 million Ellerslie feature takes place, will be left to the eleventh hour.
“It doesn’t really hinder us much, we are here on the spot (at Byerley Park). The hassle might be if we get to the races and where,” Walker said.
“Things might change later in the week, but at the moment we have got to train for Sunday. We will be ready for Sunday, and if it is any later you have got to adapt to that.
“Everyone is in the same boat, so we have to deal with it.”
COVID-19 alert levels aside, Walker has been pleased with On Display’s three-year-old preparation, which has included placings in the Group 2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) and Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) behind Rocket Spade and Jason Belltree.
The son of Showcasing was also fourth in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) in January to exciting three-year-olds Aegon and Amarelinha, both of which have bypassed the Derby.
That opens up the race and Walker is hoping to benefit as he looks to throw in a late nomination with his charge for the rich Classic.
“We are looking to late nominate for the Derby, we will decide in the morning,” Walker said.
“He has got good form and we might as well have a go if he is 100 percent. We will work him tomorrow and if everything is okay we will go ahead.”
Walker was particularly pleased with On Display’s last start placing in the Avondale Guineas and he said he has been working well since then.
“It was a messy sort of race, but it was a very good run. He tries really hard and I am really happy with him,” he said.
“He has been good. He has pulled up from the Avondale Guineas really well and he has been a happy horse.”
While On Display will not encounter Aegon or Amarelinha this weekend, Walker is heading into the weekend with realistic expectations and he is still wary of his opposition.
“He is probably a couple of lengths off the better ones, and he is probably punching a couple of lengths above himself to be fair,” he said.
“You can only race against what you have got to race against. The ones that are in there are still never easy. Everyone wants to win.”
Walker doesn’t have any set plans with On Display after the Derby and he said his career as an older horse might be hamstrung by the rating system.
“I haven’t got anything planned for him after the Derby,” he said.
“His career as a four-year-old is going to be quite tough for him because he is a rating 83 horse now, so he is basically in open company and he has won a maiden two-year-old race.
“There is no concession or leniency for three-year-olds in the points system, which can make it tough but hopefully he will run well on Sunday.”