New Zealand-bred horses dominate Group 1 Australian Derby

April 16, 2021

The stamina and class of New Zealand-sourced three-year-olds again shone through on the big stage in Australia with New Zealand-bred Explosive Jack, bought for just NZD$100,000, winning the AUD$2m Group 1 ATC Bentley Australian Derby (2400m) at The Championships at Randwick, and in the process becoming the 10th Australian Derby winner in the last 15 years to be bred or sold in New Zealand.

The son of Jakkalberry, out of the Listed-winning Extra Explosive, beat Youth Werther, this year’s Victoria Derby winner, into second, with Lion’s Roar, winner of the Group 1 Randwick Guineas over a mile in third. Incredibly the first three horses past the winning post were all bred in New Zealand. 

Explosive Jack, trained by the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace partnership, and ridden by Australian-based Irish jockey Johnny Allen, had a 50% win record prior to his Australian Derby start, having won three of his half-dozen races. 

Explosive Jack, who was placed near the back of the field for much of the contest, was brought to the fore by Allen at the top of the stretch. As the eventual runner-up and third-placed finisher quickened with Explosive Jack, the three battled to the line before Explosive Jack prevailed by just half a length at the wire.

“He’s a tough horse,” Irish-born Allen said. “The distance was never going to be a worry with him. Once we got to the outside, he really let down. He tries his guts out this horse.”

The winner has now earned AUD$1.5m, incredibly more than 16 times his purchase price at New Zealand Karaka Yearling Sale in 2019.

Commenting on the win, Ciaron Maher, one half of the successful training partnership, said:

“It’s phenomenal really. This horse has been in work a long time. His last piece of work on Saturday was the best piece he’s done since he’s had a saddle on his back. Johnny (Allen) was on board him at Werribee and he just said ‘he’s flying’ and I said ‘well that’s how it looks’. He thought he might lack that little bit of class, but we knew he was a very very strong stayer and he was right to go, so full credit to him.”

The County Cork, Ireland-born rider, Johnny Allen, was high in his praise of the successful colt, stating:.

“He is a tough horse, the distance was never going to be a worry with him. We got cover on the back of Young Werther. Montefilia actually popped out down the side and pushed me out a bit wide. I didn’t want to take off on him too early so I let her come around me. Once we got to the outside, he really let down and he tries his guts out this horse.”

Explosive Jack became the first stakes winner for the Irish-bred stallion Jakkalberry, when he won the Tasmanian Derby and is now the first Group 1 winner for the ill-fated stallion that died of a gut infection in 2018. He is also the first horse to win both the Tasmanian and Australian Derbies.

Since Explosive Jack’s Tasmanian Derby success, he finished third in the Group 2 Alister Clark Stakes at Moonee Valley and then was runner-up in the St Leger Trial at Bendigo.

His stallion Jakkalberry was a former winner of the Group 1 Gran Premio do Milano, the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold Stakes in the UAE, and the American St Leger. He also finished third in both the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic and 2012 Melbourne Cup. 

Photo: New South Wales Twitter account @racing_nsw

Contributing Authors

Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Breandán Ó hUallacháin writes about Irish, British, French and Australian horseracing, both National Hunt and Flat. He has an interest in the history of racing...

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@jonathanstettin as always, great read! you are the the best!!!

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