Matt Cumani has elected to split his Derby assault across two states but is more than comfortable having Adelaide-bound colt Nobel Heights fly the flag for the stable at Morphettville this Saturday.
The Ballarat trainer has Nobel Heights and Khoekhoe among his three-year-old Classic contenders with the former lining up in this weekend’s South Australian Derby (2500m) while the latter targets Queensland.
Cumani is hoping one of the talented colts can claim his stable a maiden Group 1 and believes Nobel Heights is capable of a breakthrough win if he puts it all together.
The lightly-raced colt is still learning his craft with just six starts to his name but is expected to be suited by the 2500m Derby test as a son of Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente.
“He is a bit of a backwards horse but has done everything right,” Cumani said.
“The 2500m should suit him fine because he is a big tall, rangy horse.
“The family are real stayers so he should stay, it will just be a matter of if he is strong enough for it yet.
“Last start in the Chairman’s he got his hind legs taken away from him and lost his action for a second but still managed to kick on so that bodes well for him.
“I thought to do that was quite impressive for a backwards, leggy horse.”
Nobel Heights settled in the back half of the field in the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes at his last start leading into the Derby but did his best work late to finish fifth.
He finished 1½ lengths back from the winner Royal Mile.
“I thought his run in the Chairman‘s was very good,” Cumani said.
“He was drawn wide and had to do a fair bit of work but just didn’t quite get there in what turned out to be a leader’s race.
“I don‘t think the fifth placing tells the full story and I was really happy with him.”
Nobel Heights is rated a $13 chance with TAB fixed odds to complete the task in Adelaide this weekend.
He fared well at Tuesday’s barrier draw and will jump from gate four in the Derby with apprentice Will Price in the saddle.
Cumani also had Khoekhoe among the South Australian Derby options but will head to Queensland for the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2000m) on Saturday week instead.
Khoekhoe finished a credible fifth in the Australian Derby before the colt gave himself no chance of victory in the Frank Packer Plate last start on April 24 when misbehaving in the run.
“I couldn’t go to a 2500m race after the way he behaved last start when he got his tongue over the bit and pulled too hard,” Cumani said.
“I would like a bit more time to have him on the plane mentally and then go to Brisbane.
“We will go to the Rough Habit then decide if we continue on to the Queensland Derby.”
GROUP 1 SA DERBY (2500M)
1 EXPLOSIVE JACK (NZ) (Ciaron Maher & David Eustace) John Allen (10) 56.5kg
2 ROYAL MILE (Lee Creek) Jacob Opperman (a) (2) 56.5kg
3 LIQUEURO (Cindy Alderson) Luke Currie (6) 56.5kg
4 LET’S KARAKA DEEL (NZ) (Ciaron Maher & David Eustace) Ben Allen (15)56.5kg
5 AZALY (Tom Dabernig & Ben Hayes) Blaike McDougall (8) 56.5kg
6 DEEPSTRIKE (NZ) (Mick Price & Michael Kent (Jnr)) Damian Lane (9) 56.5kg
7 MILETUS (Jamie Edwards) Jamie Mott (5) 56.5kg
8 MONTEPULCIANO (Richard & Chantelle Jolly) Jake Toeroek (1) 56.5kg
9 NOBEL HEIGHTS (Matt Cumani) Will Price (a) (4)56.5kg
10 ABREED (Andrew Noblet) Jason Holder (12) 56.5kg
11 SOLAR APEX (Chris Waller) Not declared (7) 56.5kg
12 SUPPRESSION (NZ) (Chris Waller) Not declared (13) 56.5kg
13 TOKEN SPIRIT (Robbie Griffiths & Mathew de Kock) Barend Vorster (11) 56.5kg
14 ICHIBANSANSABOIS (Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas) Ms Caitlin Jones (14) 56.5kg
15 PERSONAL (Tom Dabernig & Ben Hayes) Damien Oliver (16) 54.5kg
16 SHEBRINGZIT (Mick Huxtable) Karl Zechner (3) 54.5kg
SA Derby: Matt Cumani splits Derby pair Nobel Heights and Khoekhoe in pursuit of first Group 1