Hitotsu justifies favouritism in Victoria Derby

Hitotsu wins VRC Derby
Hitotsu ridden by John Allen wins the Victoria Derby at Flemington Racecourse on October 30, 2021. (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos)

Despite having only won a maiden at Donald, Ciaron Maher & David Eustace’s Hitotsu was backed as if unbeatable in Saturday’s Group 1 Victoria Derby, and the money was spot on as the son of Maurice bolted in to win by 1.75 lengths.

Having had just five starts prior to the $2 million feature race, the three-year-old colt showed his class and staying prowess to defeat Alegron and Teewaters with a time of 2:37.32.

Hitotsu went into the race on the back of an unconventional Derby campaign which saw him start in a Donald maiden first-up and then into the Caulfield Guineas (5th) before jumping from the mile to the 2500m journey.

“He’s very clean-winded,” Maher told Racing.com.

“With his run in the Guineas, we were happy to go to the Guineas off a maiden and (he) was probably the strongest on the line in the Guineas.

“We didn’t want to over-race him on the line because he is immature. We were happy with his fitness and here we are – fantastic.”

After settling well back in the run under John Allen, the colt looked to be travelling sweetly at the turn before showing an electric turn of foot in the straight to dash clear.

Allen had won three Derbies earlier in the year with Explosive Jack and was back in the winner’s stall just seven days after his success aboard State Of Rest in the Cox Plate, and there were scenes of pure elation as he added another Group 1 win to his resume.

“I suppose, coming around the corner we were in a tricky spot,” the winning jockey said.

“He was travelling that easy; it was a case of if I ride for a bit of luck through them and once we found the smallest gap, he was going that easy he was going to be able to quicken up.

“He done that and he was just much too good for them really.

“When I got off his maiden at Donald I actually said ‘geez, this lad could nearly win the Derby’ – thankfully we were right.”

Forgot You and Gunstock were the original favourites for the race but both disappointed, running fifth and 13th respectively.

Hitotsu will now spell before a tilt towards further Group 1 success in the autumn.

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