Excalibur gives Tavistock a leading Derby chance

20 Dec 2016

Exciting Tavistock youngster Excalibur was a mover in a Classic market on Saturday after he put his rivals to the sword at Te Rapa with an overdue maiden success.

The Shaune Ritchie-prepared three-year-old came in from $26 to $18 for the $1 million Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on March 4 following a dominant performance to win the Print House 1600 at Te Rapa.

Excalibur was given a dream run behind the pace on the fence and he rounded off impressively in the straight under rider Leith Innes in the Bonecrusher colours of part-owner Peter Mitchell.

"He's still got his quirks and he sweats up a bit but he's a pretty talented horse," Ritchie said.

"I don't want to overtax him too much as he's a clean-winded horse. I'll be sitting down with Peter to work out a Derby plan. He's by Tavistock out of a Stravinsky mare who's out of a Zabeel mare and he's looking for 2000m now. He's a big, long-striding horse as well."

As another son of Tavistock with Zabeel as the sire of his second dam, Excalibur is bred on the same cross as Gr.1 Australian Derby winner Tavago.

Excalibur placed in his first three starts and while he then only finished fifth in the Listed Trevor Eagle Memorial 3YO, Innes was more than happy with the colt's showing.

"He ran the fastest last 600m of that race so it was a better run than it looked," he said.

Innes had no concerns on Saturday and Excalibur was out to challenge soon after straightening and he powered clear to score by 2 3/4 lengths.

"With the blinkers on he travelled a lot better and it was all over pretty quickly," Innes said. ? NZ Racing Desk