Derby no Pot shot for Gilligan   Leave a comment

Derby no Pot shot for Gilligan

Pot Black, pictured here breaking his maiden in Darwin last year. Image courtesy of Greg Irvine/Magic Millions

Punters could be forgiven for thinking that Neil Dyer and his horses aren’t the biggest fans of Victoria’s cold, wet winter.

Each July and August, the Kyneton-based thoroughbred conditioner migrates north to Darwin with a large team of gallopers, leaving behind frosty trackwork sessions and single-digit weather forecasts for sun-soaked racedays and conditions that are all but a memory in the southern states this time of year.

There’s a strong chance the sun will be shining when a member of Dyer’s travelling team, three-year-old Bel Esprit gelding Pot Black, tackles the $135,000 Skycity NT Derby (2000m) at Fannie Bay on Saturday.

Pot Black is part-owned by Melbourne-based Paul Gilligan, a long-time friend and client of Dyer, who is hopeful the galloper can claim Saturday’s feature event to continue Dyer’s strong record in the tropics.

The gelding, who steps to 2000m for the first time in his career on Saturday, broke his maiden in Darwin last year and Gilligan believes his form in two runs this campaign suggest another win is close.

“He’s only had two runs back but he’s run well at each of them,” Gilligan said.

“In his first-up run he got back and got home nicely and then he ran in the Darwin Guineas two weeks ago and he came from second last to run fourth.

“He’s drawn 12 of 12 on Saturday so he’s going to get back which won’t worry him that much so we’ll just see if he can run the trip.”

While Pot Black’s ability to run out a strong 2000m is unknown, Gilligan is using the gelding’s familiar pedigree as a source of inspiration for the Derby.

Gilligan raced Pot Black’s dam Mrs Bently who won 13 races, including five over 2000m and beyond, during an 85-start career for Dyer and has also tasted success with her older progeny over middle distances.

“His mother (Mrs Bently) could get the trip and she won four or five races around that mark and Bel Sir who is his full-brother has also won over 2000m so we’re just hoping that he can as well,” Gilligan said.

“There were 10 of us that raced Mrs Bently and six of us stayed in and we’ve bred with her ever since.

“Pot Black and Bel Sir are probably the two best we’ve had from her and it’ll be good if he can come out and win on Saturday.”

Gilligan’s association with Dyer has continued to build since the early nineties when they raced horses like Stakes winner Gently Bently and Mrs Bently.

Buoyed by Dyer’s success in Darwin over recent years, most notably with cult hero Hawks Bay, Gilligan has become an annual pilgrim to the top end and, barring work commitments, will be trackside on Saturday.

In a 61-start career, Hawks Bay won 14 races and was placed on a further 12 occasions, earning Dyer and connections just shy of $870,000 in prizemoney.

The son of Black Hawk reserved his best performances for Fannie Bay, winning the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Darwin Cup (2000m), the 2009 Northern Territory Derby (2000m), 2009 Darwin Guineas (1600m) and the 2011 Metric Mile (1600m).

“Neil has got the knack up at Darwin and he’s had great success with horses like Hawks Bay winning feature races,” Gilligan said.

“Neil loves it and we (owners) think that if he loves it that much he can take the horse up there and here we are running in a Derby.”

Pot Black will be partnered by talented Victorian apprentice Brandon Stockdale in the Skycity Darwin NT Derby (2000m), the final event on Saturday’s seven race program.

The full fields, form and draws for Saturday’s Darwin meeting are available here.

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Posted July 17, 2015 by belesprit09 in Uncategorized

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