Rob Blacker’s Skyphios is the first horse to book his ticket into the 2022 Victoria Derby, after a fast-finishing victory in Saturday’s Byerley Handicap (1800m) at Flemington.
The son of Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente went into the $150,000 race as a three-start maiden, but he was able to get his first win out of the way at start four when defeating Quang Tri ($2.15F) by three-quarters of a length.
Skyphios went into the race as a +2000 chance with Bovada following a lacklustre first-up run in the Listed Taj Rossi Series Final (1600m) on July 2 when eight lengths behind yesterday’s runner-up.
“We actually had a big red circle around it (Victoria Derby) 12 months ago, it was just a matter of whether you were going to get there or not,” Blacker told Racing.com.
After being a touch plain first-up over 1600m when not a whole lot went right, Blacker said he wasn’t too deterred heading into Saturday’s 1800m assignment.
“I said ‘nine furlongs at Flemington is just a different race to a mile – completely different race’,” he continued.
“We’ll give him a little break now – probably just 14 days, maybe three weeks – and then just work out how he looks, but no pressure.
“He’s been running in races that are way too short for him his whole life, I think a couple of 2000m runs and that’ll do us.”
The win was impressive to look at, and winning rider Harry Coffey was all smiles when returning to scale.
The young hoop found the Byerley victory even more special given it was his 100th win for the 2021/22 racing season.
“Good to get the hundred,” he said.
“A horse like him, he’s quite progressive – love the way he did things today.
“The other day he was a bit fresh, did a bit wrong, but we came to the races today, got it right, and we’ve seen the true horse and potential and ability that he might have.”