A Trip Down Memory Lane – Sangster’s VRC Derby Win

Sangster after winning the VRC Derby at Flemington

As always, Derby Day at Flemington 2011 was a great day’s racing – French import Glass Harmonium led all the way in the MacKinnon Stakes, glamour colt Sepoy claimed the Coolmore, brilliant filly Atlantic Jewel won the Wakeful and Galileo gelding Niwot raced his way into the Melbourne Cup by winning the Lexus Stakes. It also saw the emergence of Savabeel as a Champion Sire with his son Sangster winning the main race of the day – the Victoria Derby.

Born in 2008, he was bred by Clyde and Pat Buckingham who decided to send their imported Irish bred Spectrum mare Quinta Special to the young Cox Plate winner Savabeel, whom they had a share in. They tried to sell him in January but he didn’t meet his reserve, returning in November and selling for $19,000 at the Ready To Run Sale to a then young Cambridge trainer Trent Busuttin, who was just starting out. Selling him to a few of his clients, he was called Sangster after the leviathan European racehorse owner Robert Sangster.

It wasn’t long before he started to show that he was going to be a very good buy. After winning a trial at Te Awamutu within six months of being purchased, he made his debut on a ‘Heavy 10’ at Hawera at the end of May. Starting as a short-priced favourite, he bolted in by just under seven lengths. On the back of this performance, he started favourite in the Listed Castletown Stakes but couldn’t replicate his debut performance, finishing down the track.

Given a let-up, Busuttin and his connections set about a very ambitious plan to bypass the Spring 3YO races in New Zealand and targeted him towards the $1.5 million Group 1 Victoria Derby. He resumed at the Te Teko trials a couple of days into his three-year-old career with James McDonald on board. James was so impressed that he travelled to Sydney to partner him in a Benchmark race at Warwick Farm. Again on a heavy track, he proved too good over 1200m.

Stepping up to Stakes class in the Listed Ming Dynasty, he just failed to beat Ambidexter over 1400m before finishing out a place behind fellow Savabeel gelding Strike The Stars in the Gloaming Stakes. With star Kiwi hoop James McDonald going back aboard, he finished a very creditable 3rd in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes at his next start. Sent down to Melbourne, he was beaten a long head by Sabrage in the Group 2 Norman Robinson Stakes on Caulfield Cup Day.

Two weeks later Hugh Bowman, who had won the Derby a year earlier on fellow New Zealand trained colt Lion Tamer was booked for the ride. He travelled very well throughout the race, settling around midfield and improving his position coming to the turn. Once in the straight Hugh gave him his head and he went for home and although he was getting tired on the line, he still had his head in front when reaching the famous Flemington Winning Post.

Within twelve months Sangster had gone from a ‘cheap’ buy at the Ready To Run Sale to Group 1 glory at Flemington. Immediately sent for a spell, he was then targeted at the ATC Derby at Randwick in April. His Autumn campaign didn’t reach expectations with the only glimpse of form coming in the Group 2 Alister Clarke Stakes when finishing third. He was given a good spell after finishing unplaced in the Derby.

Returning in the December of his four-year-old career, he was unlucky in his first two runs over 1400m and 1600m. He showed he was getting back to his best with a courageous second to Waikato Stud mare Glad in the Listed Anniversary Handicap at Trentham. Following this run, he was set for the Group 1 International Stakes over 2000m at Te Rapa. Ridden by Opie Bosson, he knuckled at the start but quickly picked himself up, going forward and settling on the speed. Once in the straight, he quickly took the lead, going on for a convincing win.

He then went to the Group 2 Avondale Cup over 2400m at Ellerslie and won just as easily. Following this win, he was installed a very short-priced favourite for the $500,000 Group 1 Auckland Cup. Drawing the inside barrier, he began very well and Opie Bosson was able to give him the run of the race just behind the leaders. He cruised to the lead coming around the turn before dashing away for a very comfortable victory.

This was to be his last win. He travelled across the Tasman a couple more times resulting in placings in the $2 million Group 1 The BMW and Group 3 JRA Cup at Moonee Valley and retired following an unplaced run in the Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield.

At the end of his career, Trent’s $19,000 ‘cheapie’ had amassed six wins an in excess of $2 million in prize money. With the Ready To Run Sale at Karaka just around the corner, there are 18 Savabeel’s catalogued – there may just be another Sangster amongst them!

Story by Jeremy Rogers



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