By Glenn Davis
Three New Zealand raiders - Dark Destroyer, Pinarello and Tutukaka - will be out to end a 13-year-old drought for Kiwi stayers in the Group 1 Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Only two New Zealanders have won the Brisbane classic in the last 30 years with the John Wheeler-trained Court Ruler the last successful visitor in 2009 following Royal Magic’s win for Dave O’Sullivan in 1992.
O’Sullivan’s son, Lance is trying to emulate his father’s Queensland Derby victory with Dark Destroyer, a brilliant last start winner in the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate at Eagle Farm.
Dark Destroyer drew barrier one while Pinarello, who is making his Australian debut, drew out wide in 20 in the $1 million Queensland Derby which attracted a field of 21 including three emergencies.
The Tony Pike-trained Tutukaka drew gate 11 after finishing seventh in the Rough Habit Plate in his first Australian start.
Pinarello is trained in partnership by Roger James and Robert Wellwood and is coming off a Group 2 win at Pukekohe on April 23.
Pinarello is regarded as one of New Zealand’s most exciting stayers, winning three of his six starts, with his only unplaced run in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie in March.
James’ major concern with Pinarello - who is set to be ridden by Leith Innes - is a heavy track and is hopeful of a track upgrade if the weather breaks later in the week.
“He’s never been on a heavy track but I’m very happy with him,” James said.
“We decided not to run him on a wet track in the Rough Habit.
“He went seven weeks between runs when he won at Pukekohe and it was his best win and this will only be five weeks between runs.”