Alice Springs trainer Kerry Petrick eyes third NT Derby

Kerry Petrick and Paul Denton
Kerry Petrick and jockey Paul Denton are all smiles after Starton won on debut at Darwin’s Fannie Bay on Saturday. Picture: Caroline Camilleri (Fotofinish Racepix)

Alice Springs trainer Kerry Petrick has won the previous two editions of the NT Derby (2050m), and she might well have another contender in 2024.

Starton caught the eye in his Top End debut on Saturday, June 8, when he saluted by 4.5 lengths against fellow three-year-olds over 1200m.

It was another lead-up ahead of the $75,000 Darwin Guineas (1600m) on July 6 and the $135,000 Derby on July 20.

The Darwin Cup Carnival starts with the Guineas and ends on August 5 with Cup Day at Fannie Bay.

Cantankerous in the gates, Starton missed the start before finding his feet, and after working his way to third passing the 600m finished full of running in the home straight and was in fact easing up on the line.

The son of Tosen Stardom had five starts for Mornington trainer Jerome Hunter where he was placed in three Pakenham maidens over 1200m (third) and 1400m (second and third).

“I have bought quite a few horses off Jerome over the years,” Petrick said.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to get the phone call in regards to Starton, the timing was perfect – it couldn’t have been more perfect actually.

“We’ve had him for a few months now, we prepared to bring him up here with the classics in mind.

“As a maiden, he had a fair job in front of him, but the form down south is very strong, and his trackwork has been exceptional.

“He’s quite unique to train, very quirky, so we really had no idea, particularly out of barrier one, how he was going to go.

“The first time they jump on a dirt surface is also something unusual for them, and although he was copping some dirt, he handled it well.

“He was extraordinary on Saturday, and I was super impressed with his last 50m, he basically gave me a really good feeling going towards the Guineas and the Derby.

Veteran NT jockey Paul Denton, who partnered Venting and Anphina to victory in the last two Derby’s, said Starton did a few things wrong, which Petrick put down to greenness.

“I believe he will take a lot out of that and only improve from that run, so it’s really exciting times ahead of us,” Petrick added.

“I just think the way he raced, he showed that he is going to continue to get ground as he has potential.

“His next start will be in the three-year-old 1300m race in a fortnight, and I can’t see why at this stage the mile will prove a problem to him, and then hopefully we’ll just keep working towards the Derby.”

Winning three straight Derby’s would be a dream for Petrick, and just like every other trainer, she is also eyeing the $50,000 Darwin Double Bonus should Starton win the Guiness and Derby.

After Venting won the Alice Springs Cup (2000m) in April, Petrick is in line to pick up the $100,000 Triple Crown bonus should the five-year-old gelding deliver in the $60,000 Chief Ministers Cup (1600m) in July and $200,000 Darwin Cup (2050m).

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