He's only a baby but Liberator shows his credentials for the 2012 Derby
While the four-year-olds headed towards the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby rightly held centre stage yesterday, trainer David Ferraris was firing a long-term shot across the bow of 2012 Derby hopefuls with Liberator.
The three-year-old son of Encosta De Lago strolled to his third straight victory for the season and the normally reserved Ferraris didn't mind talking about his classic agenda. 'He is only a baby but is a very exciting horse. The Derby next year will be his aim, but we have to take care of him now not to burn out his engine,' Ferraris said.
'We'll take our time with him and pick our races, but he's going to be a serious stayer in time. He relaxes, 2,000m will be no problem for him.'
Ferraris had given the youngster almost two months between runs going into yesterday's first test out of Class Four, and Douglas Whyte was as impressed as the trainer as he landed the second of his winners for the afternoon in a hand canter. 'I hate to talk about Derbies so far out from the race, but I will say that Liberator is a nice young horse and a lovely natural athlete who just floats along under you. When I've ridden him in the morning and David says to go a certain time, you're always a bit faster because he's got that flowing, conservative action and gets over the ground faster than you think he's going,' Whyte said.
'He's got a great asset in that lovely gate speed he possesses that helped with the wide draw today. This was his first win coming from behind horses and David was slightly worried about that, but he just went to sleep in fourth spot and let down really well when I popped the question.'
Ferraris said Liberator's kind disposition now had not always been the case, with the gelding something of a handful at one stage.
'He wasn't the easiest but Chris McMullen does a lot of work on him on the track and has done a splendid job getting him to settle down,' he said.
Whyte earlier won for Me Tsui Yu-sak on New Leader, an infrequent winner to date, but Whyte seemed to get on him at the right time, piloting New Leader in an unlucky run last time, before correcting the score this time.
'I'd ridden him in trackwork and, although he can be a bit keen, he also likes to look around a bit, so I suggested the blinkers and they seem to have done the trick,' Whyte said.