Ferraris feels he has worthy Derby contender

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 January, 2007, 12:00am

Trainers of any horse on a 67 rating don't normally harbour Derby aspirations, less than three months out from the race. But Towering Feeling is no ordinary horse and David Ferraris is certainly no ordinary trainer.

Towering Feeling, a raging $14.50 favourite, made hacks of his rivals in yesterday's Daisy Handicap (1,400 metres) and Ferraris won't mind if the handicappers take to him savagely in their reassessments today in the wake of this 31/2-length win.

'I really think this horse can make up into a Derby horse and it's just a matter of getting him there,' Ferraris said.

'I want to run him in the Derby Trial at 1,800 metres, so it will be a matter of finding a race for him at a mile between now and that race.'

The Group Two Derby Trial will be decided over 1,800 metres at Sha Tin on February 20, while the HK$14 million Group One Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby will be staged over 2,000 metres on March 18.

Towering Feeling is a huge horse but, according to Ferraris, is so well balanced that his height can come as a surprise to the casual observer.

'But when you stand alongside him to saddle him up, you realise he's a really big horse, he's almost 17 hands,' the champion South African trainer said.

Although Towering Feeling's three wins so far have all come at 1,400 metres, the Faltaat gelding is by no means a distance specialist. As far as jockey Douglas Whyte is concerned, 1,400m metres is now well and truly at the bottom of the New Zealand-bred galloper's distance spectrum.

'He was very solid again today and he raced handy enough, but I was always just niggling him,' Whyte said.

'He's telling me he wants a mile and I think if David steps him up to that distance, he'll travel much more comfortably.'

While most pundits were prepared to forgive Towering Feeling for his last-start failure on International Races day on December 10, when caught wide without cover, Whyte read the race a little differently.

'I know he got posted a bit wide last start but I didn't think that was an excuse,' the Durban Demon added.

'To me he was still a bit disappointing.

'I felt he just threw in an average race, which they can all do.

'After two big wins to start the season, a horse like him might look like he's coasting when he wins impressively but he's putting in everything he's got and I think those two runs may have told on him last time.'

Ferraris thinks Towering Feeling's scopey physiology, and a multi-purpose pedigree, can pave the way for the gelding's transition to being a group-class middle-distance galloper over the next couple of months.