Press Release – Mango Communications
There is one giant difference between riding a Derby winner and training one – and as Bob Vance will tell you, it is not the winning percentage that counts.
As a jockey, Vance rode four New Zealand Derby winners during his stellar career and now trains the second favourite for the TV3-sponsored classic at Ellerslie on March 2nd in Castlzeberg.
So the biggest difference?
“When you are training a horse like this, he is the first thing you think of every morning,” says Vance.
“However when you are riding them, sure it matters, but you really just walk out into the Birdcage, hop on and hope for the best.
“There isn’t really a lot more you can do than that as a jockey. Whereas when you are training them you have to plan every little thing.
“Obviously it’s far more involved, but as a result, it’s far more rewarding.”
Vance, who trains Castlzeberg with his wife Jenny, is still very much a rider and does much of the three-year-old Castledale gelding’s trackwork himself.
“Jenny and I share the trackwork but I tend to ride this fella more. However, we had a departure from that last week when Danielle (Johnson, his raceday jockey) came in and rode him. That is unusual for us but it worked.”
That is a typical piece of Vance understatement.
Johnson read the tempo perfectly in Saturday’s $100,000 Waikato Guineas at Te Rapa as Castlzeberg led throughout to distance his opposition by 3.8 lengths. Well backed pre-post to win the Guineas, the effortless victory saw him shorten into $6 second favouritism with the TAB for the TV3 New Zealand Derby.
The star of The New Zealand Herald Christmas Carnival at Ellerslie, Habibi, has tightened into $3.50 favoritism for the TV3 New Zealand Derby (even though she didn’t race over the weekend), with unplaced Guineas favourite Weissmuller drifting from $6 to $8 for the big race.
While Castlzeberg’s front-running tactics were perfect for a raceday dominated by on-speed horses on Saturday, Vance believes that can prove just as effective over 2400m in the Derby.
“I think when you have a horse people expect to lead and they know will run along, they get respect – and he would have gained a lot of that from what he did on Saturday.
“Mark Sweeney, who rode Zinko, said to me that at the 600m all he wanted to do was get off our guy’s back because Danielle was tapping him up but then 400m later he was cruising again.
“So we won’t be scared to try and lead all the way in the TV3 New Zealand Derby because if you have a horse who likes it up front and is relaxed, it can be the best place to be.”
Vance will not commit to a pre-Derby meeting with Habibi in Sunday week’s Avondale Guineas just yet.
“It is possible but I also think we could get away without another race before the Derby.
“If we do miss the Guineas, I’d be quite keen to gallop him at Ellerslie’s Breakfast With The Stars on the Tuesday prior to the Derby.
“But I might even leave it to this weekend, or even next Monday, to make that decision.”
The Auckland Cup Week Breakfast With The Stars will be held at Ellerslie Racecourse on Tuesday 26th February. It is at this event where some of the ‘stars’ of New Zealand’s richest racing event will enjoy a training gallop before Auckland Cup Week begins on the Saturday. This event is free for the public to attend with breakfast items and hot drinks available for purchase.
The Group I $750,000 TV3 New Zealand Derby is the headline act of TV3 Derby Day (the opening ‘act’ to Auckland Cup Week 2013) and is set to be held at Ellerslie Racecourse on Saturday 2nd March. This year’s TV3 New Zealand Derby is one of New Zealand’s richest races, with a total prize purse of $750,000.