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Virus restrictions cast doubt on Eric The Eel's Australian Derby plan

By Glenn Davis

COVID-19 restrictions have dashed trainer Chris Anderson’s interstate plans with Ballistic Boy while rival Stu Kendrick is still keeping his options open for Eric The Eel to head south for the Group 1 Australian Derby next month.

Eric The Eel was to run in the Group 2 Tulloch Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday but travel restrictions for staff forced Kendrick to abort the trip and instead accept with the gelding in the Open Handicap (2200m) at Doomben on Saturday.

Ballistic Boy was being aimed at second-tier Group 2 and Group 3 races in Sydney but Anderson has scrapped the trip and will now concentrate on the Brisbane winter carnival.

“Our plans were to go to Sydney for the Tulloch Stakes this Saturday but we can’t take them across the border now due to the virus restrictions and can’t send staff with them,” Kendrick said.

“There’s still an option he can go down for the Australian Derby but it’s not really realistic as there’s too much uncertainty.

“Our best option now is to go for the Rough Habit and Queensland Derby here during the winter and he’s only a 50-50 chance of running at Doomben on Saturday.

“I’ll make up my mind about running Saturday in the next 48 hours.”

Kendrick was delighted with Eric The Eel’s last start third to Magnufighter in the Gold Coast Stakes (1800m) on March 14 and expects him to be competitive if he starts.

“If he doesn’t run Saturday, he’ll start over 1800 metres the following week at Eagle Farm then we’ll decide about the Australian Derby,” Kendrick said.

“His last run was terrific as he doesn’t like the wet and he was up against horses who have been racing in Stakes races.”

Meanwhile Anderson said Ballistic Boy would definitely start in the Three-Year-Old Handicap.

“He was going to barrier trial yesterday and go to Sydney next Wednesday but all that was put off because of the virus restrictions,” Anderson said.

“He’ll stay in Brisbane now and run on Saturday which is not ideal but he needs to run.

“We weren’t targeting this race but he still should be competitive.”

Ballistic Boy was an impressive last start winner against his own age over 1400 metres at Eagle Farm on March 7.

“I thought his win was very good as he sat three deep,” Anderson said.

Racing Queensland webnews - March 25