Perfect Derby draw for Sharp ‘N’ Smart

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It's hard to dismiss the similarities between Sharp ‘N' Smart and .

Both horses were victorious in the Group 1 (2000m) before placing in the Group 1 VRC Derby (2500m) as spring three-year-olds for trainer .

Savabeel was also victorious in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) a week prior to his VRC Derby placing and later went onto a successful stud career where he has held court as 's Champion sire for the best part of a decade.

Sharp ‘N' Smart has already equalled his stable predecessor's Group One following his heroics in the (2000m) at Te Rapa last month, and he will be aiming to better it when he returns to the Hamilton track on Saturday to contest the $1 million (2400m).

Rogerson believes the gelded son of has the potential to usurp Savabeel's deeds on the track, particularly given his belief that there is plenty of improvement to come from Sharp ‘N' Smart as he matures.

“Savabeel had a very fast turn of foot and this horse can certainly run sectionals,” said Rogerson, who trains in partnership with his wife Debbie.

“He looks as if he has the makings of a really great staying horse and potentially he could be very good, he is certainly up with them (best three-year-olds he has trained) now.

“He is very strong physically, just mentally he has got to put it all together. He is getting better all of the time, and as he gets more experience I think he will get a lot better.”

Rogerson has big aspirations with his gelding, but his immediate focus is on Saturday's New Zealand Derby where he has drawn barrier four.

The local trainer was pleased with the draw and has welcomed their change of luck after Sharp ‘N' Smart's withdrawal from the Group 2 Wellington Guineas (1400m) with a stone bruise at the start of his preparation.

Rogerson is now thanking his lucky stars that he elected to bypass the Wellington feature and hopes to reap the rewards this weekend.

“Those (stone bruise) are things that happen with horses and the horse comes first,” he said.

“It is a good draw and I just hope the good luck keeps going.

“You can ride him anywhere and Ryan (Elliot, jockey) can go back or go forward, he can do what he likes. He knows him well.”

Rogerson has been pleased with Sharp ‘N' Smart's work ahead of Saturday and he said all signs point towards a positive performance this weekend.

“His work on morning was outstanding and I think he has improved since the Herbie Dyke,” he said.

“I am very happy with him, everything is going right and Ryan is in great form. I think he is a great rider, and he is certainly a great Group One rider.

“He puts in the time. He came and rode him on the course proper at Te Rapa on Tuesday morning. Ryan will come in the morning (Thursday) to do his final bit of work for Saturday.”

The Hamilton trainer is taking solace from Sharp ‘N' Smart's previous Derby outing and he believes he will lap up the distance once more.

“He went well (over 2500m), he just got lost in the VRC Derby when he hit the front, but that is racing and he has come a long way since then,” he said.

All going to plan, Sharp ‘N' Smart is set to return to Australian shores for a two-race autumn campaign.

“Hopefully once we get this Derby out of the way we can head back to Australia and have a go at their big Derby in Sydney,” Rogerson said.

“At this stage he will have the two runs over there, but we play each race as we get to it.

“He will run in the Australian Derby (Group 1, 2400) and if he pulls up well he will run in the $5million Queen Elizabeth (Group 1, 2000m).

“I would love to take on the really good horses with him. It is a big ask a week later but the last time he was over there he ran in the Spring Champion Stakes and then travelled on the Monday night all the way to Melbourne and ran super in the Derby.

“He is a good traveller and I think he has the makings of something special.”

While he has big plans this autumn, Rogerson has already set out a blueprint for his smart stayer in the spring.

“I had a look at the spring programme and he will probably kick off in one of the days at Hawke's Bay and then head off to Melbourne and have a couple of lead-ups into the big races,” he said.

“My dream is that he finished off 2023 in in the Hong Kong Vase (Group 1, 2400m) in December.”

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