Ben Allen chasing first G1 win in NZ Derby

Apprentice jockey Ben Allen
Ben Allen after winning the ONeills Restaurant BM64 Handicap at Sale Racecourse on August 17, 2017 in Sale, Australia. (Leonie Grbic/Racing Photos)

A week after going close in a couple of Group One races in Melbourne, one of Victoria’s top young riders Ben Allen gets another opportunity to snare his first elite level win in New Zealand.

The 18-year-old apprentice rides Civil Disobedience for premier Victorian trainer Darren Weir in Saturday’s New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie.

“I’m really looking forward to riding Darren Weir’s first runner over in New Zealand and hopefully we can get a result,” Allen said.

Allen, who has outridden his claim, finished second in last weekend’s Group One Futurity Stakes aboard the Weir-trained Tosen Stardom and was a close third, beaten a half-neck and a short half-head, aboard another Weir-trained horse Hellbent in the Group One Oakleigh Plate on the same program at Caulfield.

A year earlier he was second in the Oakleigh Plate on Faatinah.

“I was close last weekend so hopefully this weekend I can do it,” Allen said.

“It’s every jockey’s dream to win a Group One so I’m hoping I can do that this Saturday.”

Civil Disobedience has won three of his past four races including the Tasmanian Derby (2200m) last start.

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Allen will be riding the colt for the first time but is familiar with Ellerslie having had success on a previous visit.

He won two races from five rides at Ellerslie in December when he was there to compete in a jockeys’ challenge.

Allen has two other rides on Saturday’s program before the feature.

Civil Disobedience and Allen have to overcome a wide draw in a capacity field but the jockey has confidence in his mount.

“He won his last start pretty well,” he said.

“Obviously it’s a bit of a big step up going from a Tasmanian Derby to a New Zealand Derby, and with the tricky barrier all I’ve got to do is get him into a good spot.

“Apart from a couple of other horses there’s really no other stand-outs in the race. It’s really a race of probably three or four so hopefully if we get in the right spot we’ll be able to get him the win.

“Apparently the other day he didn’t handle getting around the track too well in his first gallop but I’d say he would have had a bit more time and a bit of work going the opposite way now, so hopefully he’s ready to go.”