Skyphios chasing Victoria Derby ballot exemption

Mornington trainer Rob Blacker hopes to short circuit the stress of gaining a Victoria Derby start with Skyphios by winning Melbourne’s longest two-year-old race at Flemington.

The Byerley Handicap (1800m) on Saturday gives the late season two-year-olds a chance to show their wares as a stayer while also providing the winner a ballot exemption into the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington in late October.

A son of Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente, Skyphios has stayer written all over him, but Blacker said he is concerned at the pathway he would take to the Derby should he not be successful on Saturday.

Skyphios showed promise with his first two runs, finishing fourth in the Mornington Sires’ (1500m) on debut before running fifth in the Listed Anzac Day Stakes (1400m) at Flemington in April.

Blacker thought those two efforts were a sound starting position, although the trainer was left deflated with the 11th Skypios posted in the Listed Gibson Carmichael Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on July 2.

“We thought from the good draw he would get the run of the race, but the two horses inside him jumped out and went nowhere,” Blacker said.

“We were three deep trying to get in, but he over-raced and ended up covering a bit of ground.

“He was very plain.”

Blacker said the gelding had come though that race well but is unsure how Skyphios will handle the current heavy track,

But being a staying bred two-year-old it was the logical race to go for.

“I said to the owners, we’ll have a go at this, but I’m not sure about the going, but it is a qualifying race for the Derby, so there is that carrot,” Blacker said.

“I guess everything will be governed by what he does on Saturday, but after he runs, he’ll be heading for a break, and we’ll work on getting him to the Derby.”

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