Frankie Maynard has his hopes pinned on Rio Dane when he tackles Saturday’s $500,000 Schweppes WATC Derby over 2400m at Ascot.
Coming off his victory in the Melvista Stakes he has been aided even further with a perfect barrier draw claiming gate one.
Rio Dane is a special horse for Maynard who returned to Perth late last year after a good stint overseas in Malaysia.
It was this horse which provided his first win back on home soil when he won a Pinjarra maiden last month over 1600m, beating one of his rivals in the Derby, Discovers.
The three-year-old then ran fifth and sixth against older company in Ascot before last Saturday’s break through win in the 2200m Melvista with Shaun Meeres on board.
Despite drawing barrier 16, Rio Dane powered home from deep in the field to catch the favourite by a half-head on the line.
Maynard says he’s living the dream by owning and training a legitimate WATC Derby contender and after finally getting some barrier luck things are looking good.
Even more promising is the tricky barriers drawn by his main rivals Playing God (14) and Dreamaway (13).
Maynard says the step up to 2400m will suit him but his lack of big race experience could be an issue.
“He deserves a good barrier in this having drawn badly before,” Maynard said.
“It’s a dream to have your own horse as a dinkum chance in a Derby, but my concern is it’s only his first prep.
“Plus he’s up against Bob Peters’ filly (Dreamaway) who is outstanding, Nifty Parnham’s horse (Playing God), Jimmy Taylor’s (The Tenby Friar) and Veracious.
“Last week (in the Melvista) was his grand final, so I’ll be happy if he runs well.”
He’s not the only one hoping for a good run with jockey Shaun Meeres hoping to continue an impressive form streak including both the Melvista Stakes and the Natasha Stakes.
Odds are yet to be released for the 2011 WATC Derby but you should be able to access them later in the week at Luxbet.