Dan O’Sullivan chases spot in the 2021 Victoria Derby

Posted by at 11:22am on 12/7/2021
Filled in: Racing

Ballarat trainer Dan O’Sullivan is hoping to follow the lead of Denis Pagan when Catskill runs in Melbourne’s longest two-year-old race at Flemington.

Catskill is set to run in the Byerley Handicap (1800m) at Flemington on Saturday, a race that provides the winner a ballot exemption into the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington in October.

Pagan used the Byerley Handicap as a stepping stone for last year’s Derby winner Johnny Get Angry.

Admittedly Johnny Get Angry had better form leading into the Byerley Handicap than Catskill.

Johnny Get Angry was placed in the Taj Rossi Series Final in the lead-up to the Byerley, while Catskill beat just two home in the 1600m race at Flemington on July 3.

But O’Sullivan said the son of Rip Van Winkle pulled very hard in the run.

“He ran third at Bendigo, hit the front and looked home, but then got a bit lost and he went to that race last time because he got points for the final,” O’Sullivan said.

“I had two runners in the race and was watching the filly (Celtic Glory) and when I spoke to Brett (Prebble), he said he pulled too hard, to forget about it and to back him up as quick as possible.”

O’Sullivan said the plan was to try and get Catskill to the Victoria Derby.

“He’s a three-year-old that stays, so that’s the dream,” O’Sullivan said.

“But it will be a balancing act after Saturday.

“Do you give them a break or keep them around the stable, out in yard during the day and boxed at night and just keep them ticking over.

“We’ll hopefully try and follow something similar to what Denis Pagan did last year.”

O’Sullivan will bypass Saturday’s race with Celtic Glory, who finished third in the Taj Rossi Series Final.

He said the filly was out in the paddock and would be aimed at a race at Flemington during the spring.