Sydney trip on the line for Tibetan

Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) aspirant Tibetan. Photo: Trish Dunell

A tilt at the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) remains a remote possibility for Cambridge three-year-old Tibetan. Trainer Andrew Campbell will run the son of Shocking this weekend, most likely in Saturday’s J Swap Contractors Bay Of Plenty Cup (2100m) at Tauranga, though he also remains in the field for the 2100m maiden at Avondale on Friday.

Despite his maiden status, Tibetan has placed in the Group 3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) behind fellow Australian Derby hopeful Scorpz, then pushed that horse to a head when second in the Listed 3YO Salver (2100m) at Ellerslie before finishing fifth in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) and fourth in the Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m), both also at Ellerslie.

He finished 13th in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie last start after he was caught three wide in running. “He was really disappointing in the Derby but he had a week off afterwards and he’s freshened up nicely,” Campbell said. “His work has been good and he’s going just as well as he was leading into the Derby when he had good form around Scorpz and those sort of horses. How he goes on Saturday will determine where he goes afterwards.”

Conditions were posted as a Dead5 at Tauranga on Thursday morning with Avondale recorded at a Dead4 at the same time, Campbell saying he would be swayed to racing at the latter should significant rain fall in West Auckland. “Virtually every race he’s run has been on a hard track and we’re just looking for some easing of the ground,” Campbell said. “He still holds a nomination for Sydney but we’re probably 100 to one to go there. He’d have to win and win well on Saturday. If he hits the line well in behind them, we can still look at backing him up at Awapuni a week later (in the Group 3 Higgins Concrete Manawatu Classic, 2000m).”

Should Tibetan earn a trip to Randwick, Campbell would put him in the care of Australian-based Kiwi trainer Trent Busuttin with the restrictions on travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “He’s in great order. I couldn’t be happier with him. It’s just that his run was so bad in the Derby that it’s raised doubts but if you forgive him one bad run he’s been going well. He’s best left alone in running and saved for one last run at them.”

Tibetan is a $7.50 third favourite for the Bay Of Plenty Cup with TAB bookmakers behind Swords Drawn at $3.20 and London Banker at $4. He is at $51 for the Australian Derby.

Meanwhile, Campbell could also have a runner in the Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) at Morphettville on May 9 with Dundeel three-year-old gelding Aqueduct set to enhance his claims in the coming weeks.

A winner at Matamata last month, Aqueduct will tackle the 1500m three-year-old event at Ellerslie on Saturday week as leadup to the Group 2 Championship Stakes (2100m) at the same track on April 18, with Campbell to assess that form before making a decision on an Adelaide trip.

Campbell produced Werther to win the Championship Stakes in 2015 before finishing second in the South Australian Derby, winning the Group 2 Eagle Farm Cup (2200m) at Doomben and finishing second in the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2200m) at the same track before that horse went on to become a two-time Horse of the Year in Hong Kong.