New Zealand Derby test for Persian Empire

Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young want Persian Empire to prove himself worthy of a NZ Derby tilt.

A crack at the New Zealand Derby is in the plans for Persian Empire who will be out to press his claims when he resumes from a freshen-up at Caulfield.

Persian Empire is trained by New Zealanders Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young who have been based at Cranbourne in Victoria for the past 18 months.

They came close to winning the NZ Derby (2400m) last year with runner-up Rising Red, and Persian Empire’s performances in Melbourne in the coming weeks will determine whether he makes the trip for the Group One race at Ellerslie on March 3.

“It’s certainly on the radar,” Busuttin said.

“He’s got to step up in his next couple of starts but if he can run well on Wednesday there’s a 2040-metre race at Moonee Valley he’ll go towards.

“If he could win a race like that we would probably pop him on the plane and head over to New Zealand.”

Craig Williams will be aboard Persian Empire in Wednesday’s 1600m benchmark-64 handicap at Caulfield.

“He could win on Wednesday but if he gets beaten in a mile race it’s not the end of the world, providing he runs well,” Busuttin said.

“But he would want to step up in that Moonee Valley race.

“He’s a nice horse so there’s no reason why he can’t step up.

“He’s a big, strong colt. He’s by Savabeel and he’s bred to get over a trip.”

Busuttin said logistically it was not difficult to get Persian Empire across the Tasman for the $1 million race.

“And then you can always head to Sydney from there,” he said.

There is also an option to contest the Avondale Guineas in mid-February at Ellerslie leading into the NZ Derby.

Persian Empire has a win and three placings from his five starts.

After winning a 1717m Sale maiden at his fourth start in mid-November he ran second in a 2040m benchmark-64 at Moonee Valley on December 1.

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