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Roger James backs Pinarello’s build-up for Queensland Derby

Pinarello’s unconventional Queensland Derby campaign remains on track even though trainer Roger James has to keep taking detours on the road to the classic.


One of New Zealand’s most exciting young stayers, Pinarello is the third favourite for the A$1 million Derby scheduled for Eagle Farm in Brisbane on Saturday. Fellow Kiwi galloper Dark Destroyer is the $4.50 equal favourite.

Pinarello remains on track for the Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m). Photo: Trish Dunell

But Pinarello’s path to the Derby has been anything but smooth, which sums up a Queensland carnival which has had plenty of twists.


The extreme rainfall there saw the meeting nine days ago transferred from Doomben to Eagle Farm, while Saturday’s Doomben Cup meeting was postponed until Wednesday.


Pinarello was caught up in both changes for different reasons but James says he can still get him to Eagle Farm this Saturday in Derby-winning shape.


“We were going to start in the Rough Habit at the transferred meeting last week but it was too wet,” said James. “Then we had an exhibition gallop scheduled for after race 1 at Doomben on Saturday, but we were lucky enough to get early notice that the meeting may not go ahead, so we managed to get a good gallop into him at Eagle Farm before the rain returned.”


James says that gallop will bring Pinarello on and he will head into the Derby off a similar preparation to when he won at Pukekohe on April 23.


“He has shown us he can handle his races spaced and still produce his best. Yes, it’s less than ideal, but the rain we’ve had here and the tracks for the lead-up races haven’t been ideal either, so a lot of us are in the same boat.”


James, who trains in partnership with Robert Wellwood, says race jockey Leith Innes will ride Pinarello in work on Tuesday and then the next leg of the weather watch begins.


“We really don’t want a heavy track for Saturday but it just doesn’t stop raining over here,” says James.


“It is forecast to ease around Thursday, though, and with Eagle Farm supposed to be a really good drying track, that might help. But the way it is now, it’s hard to imagine a track coming up better than the soft range.


“He will be starting no matter what the track conditions, though, because it’s the last run of his campaign and he’ll be heading for a spell after it.”


With Pinarello, Dark Destroyer and the Tony Pike-trained Tutukaka in the Derby, it looks New Zealand’s best chance of a classic win in Australia this season.


Pinarello may also give owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay some serious classic compensation after they had to call time on the career of their wonderful sprinting three-year-old Sword Of State a race or two earlier than they wanted.


Sword Of State was always retiring to Cambridge Stud in the spring but was being set for this Saturday’s Kingsford Smith Cup and possibly even the Stradbroke on June 11 until he suffered a minor setback last week that needed to be treated with antibiotics, ruling him out of this week’s race and into retirement.


A Group 1 winner, last season’s two-year-old of the year and a rare son of Snitzel standing in New Zealand, he will get his chance at stud. – Michael Guerin, NZ Herald