By Alex Nolan
GRANT Dixon might have one hand on the 2018 NSW Derby with the exciting Colt Thirty One, but the champion Queensland trainer knows his opponents will be lining up to loosen the grip in Saturday night’s final at Menangle.
Dixon had a night to remember in Sydney after he booked his chance at a second derby victory with Colt Thirty one in the space of a month, before earning a spot in the NSW Oaks with Fame Assured.
Colt Thirty One was rated a $1.90 chance with UBET after he drew barrier one at Monday’s draw, following a stunning all-the-way win in Heat 3 at the weekend.
There, he was able to hold off the Jess Tubbs-prepared Little Peanut and odds-on pop The Devils Own (NZ) to record a seemingly comfortable 2.8m win.
“He knew he’d been around but he hit the line really nicely,” Dixon said.
“He has always been a good eater and he has pulled up well.”
Double Derby glory now seems well within reach for the Kevin and Kay Seymour-owned pacer, after he claimed a thrilling come-from-behind win in January’s $200,000 Victoria Derby at Melton.
“Derbies are particularly hard to win,” Dixon said.
“He had a bad draw (in Melbourne) but they went hard early and he was able to finish over the top. This weekend (from barrier 1) the shoe will be on the other foot.”
The three-year-old by Mach Three out of the once-raced mare Charm Personified has built an ultra-impressive record since his last-to-first debut win at Albion Park in February 2017.
In 17 starts the colt has been unplaced just twice.
However, it was his 20m demolition job of some smart rivals in the Group 1 QBRED Triad at Albion Park in July last year that really got tongues wagging.
“Even when he was being broken in they had a massive opinion of him,” Dixon said.
Dixon said Fame Assured, currently rated a $4 chance to win the Oaks with UBET, had really pleased him this time in.
“She’s really stepped up since her two-year-old campaign,” he said.
Fame Assured has seven wins and one placing from nine starts and will be out to secure her first Group 1 victory after running a narrow second to Arts Treasure in the QBRED 2YO Triad (Fillies) in July.
“I think we have two genuine chances going into this weekend,” Dixon said.