Sign up to the TDN daily edition

Enter your details below to subscribe to the TDN Australia & NZ daily edition.

Derby dominance flips tough week on its head

5 min read
In the space of seven days, jockey John Allen, trainer Darren Weir and syndicator Brad Spicer have gone from agony to the ecstasy of a Victoria Derby win with Extra Brut (Domesday).

Jockey John Allen, syndicator Brad Spicer and trainer Darren Weir have turned one of the toughest weeks of their careers into one of their greatest triumphs as Extra Brut (Domesday) proved the dominant stayer to win the G1 AAMI Victoria Derby.

Seven days ago, Allen pulled up Kings Will Dream (Ire) (Casamento {Ire)) early in the Cox Plate and trainer, owner and jockey made for a shattered trio as the promising 5-year-old left Moonee Valley with his life on the line.

But after a week where Kings Will Dream's prospects of survival improved by the day, the trio came together with Extra Brut for what had been a long-term plan to get the colt to the Victoria Derby.

Allen, the former Irish jumps jockey who two years ago was riding at a country meeting at Mortlake on Derby Day, marked his greatest day, producing Extra Brut off a hot pace to land a memorable win over Stars of Carrum (Fiorente) and Chapada (Bullet Train {GB}).

"It's unreal. He rounded them up in a matter of strides and I ended up in front too soon, but he was tough and he held on well," he said.

"I've come a long way in a couple of years and a lot of that is to do with Darren Weir and his team." - John Allen

"I've come a long way in a couple of years and a lot of that is to do with Darren Weir and his team."

It was less than eight years ago that Allen arrived from Ireland as a jumps jockey looking for some stable work.

"I couldn't get a ride back home, plain and simple. It had just quietened down I desired to travel a bit so I ended up at Darren Weir's and it kicked off from there," he said.

Allen made an immediate impact as a jumps jockey, winning feature races for Weir, who encouraged the Irishman to take rides on the flat as well.

He has now ridden over 300 winners for Weir, including two South Australian Derbies and Weir, now a 35-time Group 1 winning trainer, was delighted for Allen to win one of the biggest races in Australia.

"It’s just great that the owners stuck solid with Johnny, we all know what a great rider he is," he said.

"They all work hard at home, all the jockeys, but he works extra hard because he's there every day doing the trackwork and helping us out. It's great for him to be a part of that success."

Sweet success for Spicer

Weir has also enjoyed a long association with Spicer, who bought the horse for $100,000 at last year's Classic Sale. The scenes in the mounting yard as Extra Brut saluted were something to behold as his large group of owners celebrated the victory.

"Brad gets them sold, he's amazing at that. That's why syndicators are great for racing. It’s affordable. On the money side of it, if you've got one per cent of 100 per cent, you still get the same enjoyment out of it, and that's what you see here," Weir said.

Extra Brut pictured as a yearling

Bernard Lee, Spicer's right hand man, said the victory meant so much to all of those involved.

"Being by Domesday, we didn't know if he could stay the distance. We certainly know now and we are absolutely ecstatic," he said.

"The people in this horse have been fantastic for the ride all the way through and they really deserve it. A lot of them have been loyal to Spicer Thoroughbreds and extremely loyal to Brad and myself."

"For Darren Weir to get his first Derby, we are absolutely rapt. We're looking after Darren and Darren looks after us and hopefully, there is plenty more to come," Lee said.

Double delight for Aquis

It was also a massive day for the most recent owner of Extra Brut, Aquis Farm, who bought an interest in the colt last week.

Aquis stand Domesday at their farm in Queensland and CEO Shane McGrath was celebrating a dual success after Sunlight (Zoustar), also part owned by the Fung family, won the G1 Coolmore Stud S.

"This is what dreams are made of for us. We obviously thought he was Domesday's best son, who is Mr Fung's favourite stallion, and we had the opportunity to buy in. We are so happy to share it with Brad Spicer and all his team," McGrath said.

"Brad has been a friend of mine for a long time, and it’s a thrill, this is the grand final for racing. Sunlight has come out and won for us, and this guy has won the Derby, which is unbelievable."

"There's such an exciting future for the horse. He is sound, he is fit, who knows what he can do in the autumn."

He is the fifth Group 1 winner for Domesday.