High-class filly Habibi (NZ) is a firming $2.80 favourite for the G1 New Zealand Derby on Saturday after drawing the rails while a number of her principal rivals are stationed wide.
The Ruakaka filly boasts an impressive record of five wins from six starts, with her only defeat coming in the Avondale Guineas (2100m) a fortnight ago. On that occasion, Habibi closed well for third after getting too far back in the run.
“The way she found the line showed that she will have no trouble getting the 2400 metres of the Derby,” co-trainer Donna Logan said. “It was also her first race in seven weeks so she has taken a ton of improvement out of the race.
“It would have been nice to draw barrier four or five,” Logan added. “But barrier 1 is a hell of a lot better than 18.”
Habibi (3f Ekraar – Danny Holiday by Danasinga) will be ridden by New Zealand Derby specialist Vinnie Colgan, who will be looking to add his four previous victories aboard Roysyn, Hades, Redoute’s Dancer and Zonda.
Throughout the three-year-old season the fillies have looked to have a class edge on their male rivals – however, the barrier draw wasn’t so kind to the other members of the fairer sex.
Filly of The Year leader Fix (Iffraaj) has drawn unfavourably in 18 while Soriano (Savabeel) and Kidwelly (Dylan Thomas) will need their fair share of luck from 15 and 13 respectively.
Castlzeberg (Castledale), who split Valbuena and Habibi in the Avondale Guineas after winning the Waikato Guineas, is considered the best of the males and is currently listed as a $5 second favourite. OTI Racing’s Simon O’Donnell and Terry Henderson secured a controlling interest in the gelding and he is expected to join Danny O’Brien in Melbourne.