Oughton unveils Derby hopeful

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 January, 2005, 12:00am

David Oughton was the latest trainer to unveil a potential big-race winner secured from the yard of Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien yesterday and Leilati chose the occasion of the Irish Prime Minister's visit to Hong Kong to open his winning account.

Just 30 minutes after another member of the Irish party, Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey, had presented the Ireland Trophy for the eighth winner, the former Irish-based Leilati (Brett Prebble) was stamping himself a potential Hong Kong Derby horse as he won the EWO Challenge Trophy (1,600 metres).

'He is a very nice horse and maybe he'll get to the Derby but he'll have to take himself there,' Oughton explained.

'Definitely a year from now he will be competitive in the good races but at this stage I feel he has a bit of physical development still to come. For that reason I have no intention of squeezing him and pushing his progress too quickly just to get to the Derby.

'You know he's only won today off a 79 rating, so he has quite a bit to do yet before he'd get into the Derby field, let alone be a chance. So, as I say, if he takes the right steps up the ladder and takes his rating high enough to run in the Derby without sacrificing his future then well and good.'

The mile was Leilati's third run in Hong Kong after finishing off solidly twice. 'He wanted a mile as a two-year-old so I think that tells you 2,000 metres will really be his distance now,' Oughton said in advising that the Classic Mile was not on Leilati's programme.

'The main problem today I felt was going to be whether the mile would be far enough for him. I think he'll certainly need further now and could probably go on to the 1,800-metre race that was introduced last year for the four-year-olds and Saturn won it on the way to the Derby.'

Leilati ran in Ireland as Anchor, where he was raced by high-profile owner Michael Tabor in partnership with Sue Magnier, the wife of Coolmore Stud principal, John Magnier.

'People like to say you can't buy horses out of O'Brien's yard if they're any good but I've had a great relationship with the Coolmore people,' Oughton said.

And he is not the only one, with Jockey Club chairman Ronald Arculli's 2004 Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner, River Dancer, also a purchase from Coolmore.