Gibson mum about Mizani's path
On a day that promised nothing out of the ordinary and delivered, fans at Happy Valley had something special to take home when Mizani staged a last-to-first win in the final race and left a question begging - did the wrong Richard Gibson horse win the Derby?
Mizani (Richard Fourie) wasn't the best to begin and trailed the field to the home turn and was still more than a length behind the second-last horse on straightening for home.
Then the four-year-old let go a paralysing sprint which took him through the field to snatch a neck win that looked as unlikely at the 300m as it was cozy at the wire and Mizani maintained his unbeaten record after three outings.
The grey had been one of Gibson's powerful three-pronged Derby attack along with Akeed Mofeed and eventual third-placegetter Gold-Fun, but Mizani stepped on a stone on race morning and was withdrawn by the vets with a bruised foot just one hour before Akeed Mofeed took out the classic.
Mizani was forgotten in the aftermath but the manner of this Class One mile win, four weeks to the day since that stone bruise, had some asking if the best Gibson horse had won the Derby.
While the trainer wasn't getting into that discussion, even he was taken aback by the manner of the victory.
"He's a very talented horse, that's for sure. He wasn't 100 per cent today yet he was incredibly impressive," Gibson said. "And I want to dedicate the win to Mizani's groom and to the farrier. Mizani has a lot of niggles and everyone concerned has done a first rate job to get him right again to perform that way."
The Group Three Queen Mother Memorial Cup over 2,400m on May 5 had been suggested as a possible target for Mizani - as yet untested beyond 1,650m here but a 2,000m winner in Ireland - but the trainer himself was umming and ahhing about future targets.
"I'll have to talk to the owner. Because Mizani's difficult to train, it isn't easy to make firm plans for where he goes next. I don't want to label him a Group horse yet, I'd rather he proved himself first," Gibson said. "I want to get him out over further and one of the reasons for running him today was to get a race into him and then maybe look at the Queen Mother Cup."
In the next breath, though, Gibson admitted Mizani's brilliant turn of foot had his mind pulling in different directions as to the horse's forte.
"He's got such a good sprint on him in these types of races, as we saw there, it makes me wonder if he really wants as far as 2,400m," Gibson said.