Encosta colt favourite for Gold Circle Derby in South Africa

With Group 1 racing finished for the season, Encosta de Lago is well-placed to successfully defend the Australian sires’ premiership he won for the first time last year.  He has a $400,000 lead over Redoute’s Choice and Scenic with five weeks remaining in 2008-09.

Encosta de Lago was expected to add more prizemoney to his off-shore account at Royal Ascot last Saturday but his Hong Kong star Sacred Kingdom failed to deliver in the Group 1 Golden Jubilee.

The Coolmore resident can make amends in South Africa this Saturday when Dan de Lago starts a short-priced favourite in the R350,000 Gold Circle Derby (G2) at Clairwood.

Dan de Lago (3c Encosta De Lago – The Golden Dane by Danehill) is overdue for a feature race victory.  He was going for a winning hat-trick in the G1 Daily News 2000 at Greyville on June 6, however, he was beaten a half-length by Big City Life despite a determined late bid from Australian bred colt.

Trainer Charles Laird bought Dan de Lago for stable client Markus Jooste for $480,000 at the 2007 Gold Coast Magic Millions.  His dam The Golden Dane was a Listed winner of the Darby Munro Stakes at Rosehill and the Reginald Allen Hcp at Randwick and she was also a G1 runner-up to ill-fated filly Unworldly in the 2000 Group 1 Flight Stakes.

Dan de Lago won his maiden second-up over 1400m at Vaal in February and was obviously rated very highly by the stable after going off as short as 1/7.

He has really hit stride since being sent over ground and reeled off a couple of fluent wins over 2000m at Turffontein and Clairwood before that honourable defeat at the hands of Big City Life who is one of the favourite for the G1 Durban July Handicap.

Dan de Lago virtually matched strides with Big City Life over the final 400m I the Daily News 2000 and looks difficult to oppose on Saturday.

His dam The Golden Dane is owned by Coolmore offshoot Roncon and she has a yearling colt and a weanling colt by Encosta de Lago.  The yearling sold to Gai Waterhouse for $180,000 at the 2009 Inglis Australian Easter Sale.

Laird and Jooste have already struck at black-type level with an Australian bred Encosta de Lago in South Africa.  Their brilliant filly Merlene de Lago, who is out of Danehill’s 1996 Golden Slipper winner Merlene, saluted in the G2 SA Fillies Nursery, G2 Pretty Polly Stakes and Listed Ruffian Stakes last season.

The stable can also win the G2 Gold Circle Oaks this Saturday with up-and-coming Australian bred filly Hersonet who was a $130,000 purchase from the Arrowfield draft at the 2007 Gold Coast Magic Millions.

Hersonet (3f Hussonet – Hasty Bird by Bluebird) is a younger half-sister to Champion Singapore 3yo Lim’s Objective (O’Reilly) and Hong Kong winner Electronics Spur (Flying Spur).