Bullets poised to fire in G1 Queensland Derby trial

Two weeks ago, Joe Pride saddled up his first Derby runner and almost came away with the prize.

If Bullets High can run to expectations in Saturdays Frank Packer Plate (2000m) at Randwick, the trainer might not have to wait long for his second.

Ceolwulf stormed home to be beaten a half-length by Riff Rocket in the ATC Australian Derby on the opening day of The Championships, and now Pride is hoping Bullets High can book his passage north to contest Queensland’s version.

“It doesn’t rain, it pours,” Pride said of a potential second Derby starter.

“I think we will be in the Queensland Derby, so Saturday is a good measuring stick for that.

“I don’t think it’s a great edition of the Packer Plate and if he can’t run first four there, I’d be pretty disappointed.”

Bullets High is by two-time Group 1 winner Ace High who captured the 2017 Victoria Derby and finished runner-up in the Australian Derby six months later.

Now standing at New Zealand’s Rich Hill Stud, Ace High had nine runs on rain-affected tracks and didn’t place in any of them, a statistic Pride was mindful of when Bullets High was beaten as favourite at Gosford last start.

“I looked at Ace High’s form a day before the race and I started to weaken a little bit,” Pride said.

“He had nine starts on soft and heavy and never ran a place, so I think he takes after the old man.

“They don’t all do that, so that’s why I wanted to take him there to find out, but when you watch you can just see from the get-go out of the gates, he was slipping and sliding everywhere.

“Gosford is probably also not his ideal track.”

Pride reported Bullets High had come through the run well and the three-year-old did indicate he had returned in good order with a fast-finishing second over 1400m at Kensington first-up.

Chris Waller has won four of the past six editions of the Frank Packer Plate and has three runners in Saturday’s renewal, headed by race favourite and last-start Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) runner-up Tannhauser.

He will also be represented by Saltcoats and , who finished third and fifth respectively in the Tulloch Stakes (2000m).

“His runs have been good and it’s a perfect race for him from the nice draw,” Waller said of Tannhauser.

“Saltcoats was much better last start, he’s got a good draw as well, and Anderson Bridge didn’t get a lot of luck in the Tulloch. He’s drawn out a bit which I think he’ll appreciate, a good draw last start probably cost him running top three.”

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