A LAUNCHING pad for some great careers in Australian racing, Bendigo's 'Nursery of Champions' might have given birth to another one on Friday.
No sooner had the impressive Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock debutant Detonator Jack crossed the line to score a convincing maiden win, than the word 'derby' was being bandied about by some in his ownership group.
While the three-year-old gelding won over 1400m, his breeding, by the Irish former Melbourne Cup placegetter Jakkalberry out of the mare Red Delicious, suggests much longer distances will eventually be his forte.
Hence, early talk of Victoria Derby aspirations.
Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock owner/director Darren Dance could not have been more impressed with the win.
"He looked really good in the yard and the Maher-Eustace stable have done a really good job with him," he said.
"He's been a bit of a work in progress.
"We picked him up after a trial in New Zealand some time ago and we raced the sire Jakkalberry, who flashed home and ran third in the Melbourne Cup one year, and we've had a soft spot for this breed.
"Unfortunately, Jakkalberry passed away.
"Look, he's really well-bred and is a good cut of a horse. He drew wide and I was just pleased Harry (Coffey) rode him the way he did, down the lane and gave him every chance.
"It looks like he's going to have a good future."
In response to derby speculation, Dance quipped: "Is there a derby here at Bendigo?
"We won't get ahead of ourselves, but he's obviously bred to be a distance horse.
"We all dream about derbies and going to Adelaide. Things happen, I think it could be our turn this year."
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It was another win at the Nursery of Champions for last year's Bendigo Cup-winning jockey Harry Coffey.
The 26-year-old from Swan Hill was mightily impressed with Detonator Jack, who put three-lengths between himself and the Ben Brisbourne-trained second placegetter Suparazi.
"He really switched off and wandered around late, but if another horse had went with him, he would have found another gear," he said.
"I liked him, that was a nice win."
On derby ambitions, Coffey said: "He pulled up quite good in the wind, so he's really got potential to go out over further.
"On today's effort - it wasn't a bad field, there was a little bit of form in it. He's going to be better over further and he's beaten some horses with some nice form.
"The potential is there, but they have got to hold up.
"We'll see how he goes, but there are smarter people in charge of him that know more than what I do."
Third in the race was the Kym Hann-trained Extreme Emotion, who notched up a fourth straight placing after starting as favourite, as she has in all four of her runs to date.
The three-year-old filly was beaten by an obviously smart horse and it would be a surprise if she was not able to knock over her first win this campaign.
Meanwhile, Stawell galloper Gold Logie put an end to a frustrating run of seconds with a golden performance at Bendigo.
The four-year-old gelding, trained by former Group 1-winning jockey Mark Pegus, had rarely been far away from the winner in all 10 of his previous starts, highlighted by six placings.
That haul included an astonishing three straight seconds leading into Friday.
The son of 2013 Cox Plate winner Shamus Award was able to break through in convincing style, putting his rivals away over 1300m.
Pegus hailed the win as 'a huge relief'.
"He's a nice horse and the owners have been patient and I just keep telling them to be patient, he's a long way from where we want him to be," he said.
"But we will see the best of him in six to 12 months' time.
"I was happy that when he got to the front, he had an easy time.
"He's got a good turn of foot this horse when you ask him and I thought when that one came around the corner on the bridle he was going to take a bit of running down.
"Obviously he's still very new and hasn't been in front before. Hopefully, he can improve with that now."
Pegus' initial inkling was to put Gold Logie way for a spell and allow him to mature some more, but he did not rule out one more run at Stawell on cup day (April 17).
All of Friday's winners (trainer/jockey):
Race 1: Wicklow Lass (Tom Dabernig/Blaike McDougall);
Race 2: Hayley (Michael Moroney/Robbie Downey);
Race 3: Gold Logie (Mark Pegus/Jarrod Fry);
Race 4: Detonator Jack (Ciaron Maher-Dave Eustace/Harry Coffey);
Rac 5: Kootara (Dale Plant/Zac Spain);
Race 6: Lumber Punk (Leon and Troy Corstens/Jack Hill);
Race 7: Governor Landy (Tony Noonan/Damian Lane);
Race 8: Beltoro (Robert Hickmott/Blaike McDougall).
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