What’s The Story enters Derby calculations with extraordinary win
23 February 2016
Just when punters thought the picture for the Gr. 1 BMW New Zealand Derby had been clarified with the running of Saturday’s Avondale Guineas, a new contender emerged forty minutes later with a performance that had to be seen to be believed.
Desperately needing victory in the last race on the day’s Ellerslie card to boost his prizemoney and secure a start in the Derby, What’s The Story grabbed the win in a manner that has thrust him firmly into the wildcard role a fortnight out from the feature three-year-old contest.
Languishing in 30th position on the Derby order of entry before the race, What’s The Story suffered a severe check that cost him several lengths when the pacemaker Irish went amiss with seven hundred metres left to travel in the rating 65, 2100 metre contest. Rider Sam Spratt didn’t panic though and balanced the Savabeel gelding up before setting out after the leaders who by then were a least a dozen lengths ahead of her mount.
In a driving finish What’s The Story showed plenty of courage as he hauled in fellow Derby aspirant Splendido in the shadows of the post to notch a remarkable victory that keeps his Derby hopes alive.
Co-trainer Stephen McKee cut a relieved figure after the race as he reflected on the performance.
“Obviously it’s very unfortunate for the connections of the horse that went amiss but our bloke lost a lot of ground in that skirmish so it was a massive performance to get up and win after that,” he noted.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in the horse but I’m really just hoping we can get in the Derby now. He’ll get a good bit of prizemoney today and hopefully that’s enough.”
McKee admitted he felt the horse had shown he was a Derby contender throughout his current preparation as long as he could perform on his favoured firm track surface.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in the horse as he’s put his hand up right the way through as a Derby type so we are keen to get there,” he said.
“I don’t believe the 2400 metres is a concern as he went up 700 metres today from his last start so I think the Derby trip is the least of our worries provided we can cop a good track.”
Securing $12,000 from the win boosts What’s The Story to an unconfirmed 18th position on the order of entry for the blue riband event which would see him take the last available spot in the field. However, there are indications several higher ranked rivals won’t take their place in the field which will delight followers of the heavily supported Provocative who currently sits outside a guaranteed start in the event. – NZ Racing Desk