Derby day launching pad to international targets for Rogerson pair

Group 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) contender, More Wonder. Photo credit: Race Images South

As always, Hamilton trainer Graeme Rogerson isn’t shying away from a challenge.

Rogerson and his co-trainers Debbie and Bailey Rogerson will produce More Wonder in Saturday’s Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) and Ferrando in the Group 3 Waikato Stud Plate (1200m) at Ellerslie.

Should they perform to expectations, Rogerson is planning big things for both horses.

“We think More Wonder is a really good horse. We’re thinking about taking on Winx with him but we’ll just play that by ear,” he said.

“And Ferrando, if he runs really well, hopefully he’ll get an invitation to Hong Kong (for the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize over 1200m on April 28).”

Ferrando went within a whisker of claiming his first Group One win when run down late by Enzo’s Lad in the Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham, run in a sizzling 1:06.95.

“It was a sensational run and the watered track didn’t help but it was still touch and go whether he might have actually won the race,” Rogerson said.

“He’s drawn another bad alley this weekend but he’s a proven horse. With a dry track and if he gets the run to suit, he’ll be very competitive.

“He’s worked really well this week. Bailey is really happy with him and she told me they’ll know he’s there.”

Online bookmakers installed Ferrando a $6 third favourite for the set-weights and penalties sprint behind Spring Heat and Princess Kereru at $5.

A winner of eight of his 23 starts, seven of those at 1200m, Ferrando will head to Trentham next start to defend his Listed Lightning Handicap (1200m) crown on March 16 before heading overseas.

“He won the Lightning last year and then went to Adelaide and it rained. He needs a rock hard track,” Rogerson said.

Rogerson has high hopes for More Wonder in Saturday’s Derby, despite the Mossman gelding never racing past 1600m.

A winner of three of his 16 starts, More Wonder ran a luckless fourth in the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham before meritorious runs for fifth in the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham and fourth in last week’s Group 1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic (1600m) at Otaki against the older horses.

“He’s shown he’s up to running against the very best horses. A few things have gone wrong, otherwise he should probably have been a Group One winner already,” Rogerson said.

“I know it’s a Derby but he’s a really good horse. Horses don’t work like he’s been working at home. He’s just got to put it all together. He struck a wet track last week and he’d done a few things wrong in the run beforehand but with the right run this weekend, he’s in this Derby up to his eyeballs.

“He’s working like a Derby winner and he’ll be very competitive if he does everything right. He doesn’t pull or anything at home but he’s such a strong horse. I think that much of him I paid $280,000 for his half brother at Karaka.”

Online bookmakers have More Wonder as a $13 fifth favourite for the Derby behind Surely Sacred at $3.40, Vernanme at $6, In A Twinkling at $7.50 and Platinum Invador at $10.

More Wonder holds nominations in Australia for the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) on March 23, the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on April 6 and the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 13, a race slated as potentially the last for champion mare Winx.