Trainer Neville Parnham remains upbeat about Platoon heading into Saturday’s Group 2 WATC Derby (2400m) at Ascot, despite facing the arduous task of turning the tables on Regal Power.
Platoon stormed into Derby contention with a strong win in the J.C. Roberts Stakes (1800m) last month, before he finished third to Regal Power in the Melvista Stakes (2200m) last start.
However, Parnham said Platoon drawing the extreme outside barrier in the 14 horse field could be the key to his chances in the $400,000 event.
“That’s cemented my thoughts that we will be riding him off the pace,” Parnham told TABradio.
“Every time the horse has been ridden off the pace he’s stormed home, or he’s run home very strongly.”
Platoon, to be ridden by Steven Parnham, will be looking to go one better than his sire Playing God, who finished second to Dreamaway in the 2011 WATC Derby.
Despite being a winner at just two of his 15 career starts, Platoon has established himself as one of the more talented colts and geldings in his age group, with three blacktype placings to go with his J.C. Roberts Stakes win.
Parnham said the 2400m was a small question mark for Platoon, but was confident he could still match motors with Regal Power.
“You can’t fault the horse,” he said.
“The horse is just absolutely working the place down.
“I think he will run the distance easily, but he certainly looked a bit suspect the other day.
“So if he can run the 2400, he will play a big part in the finish.”
Regal Power remains a well-supported $1.70 favourite for the Derby with TABtouch, ahead of WA Oaks winner Dark Choice ($8.50), while Platoon shares the third line of betting with Cockney Crew at $10.
Parnham will be eyeing off a two state feature double when Malibu Style runs in the Bel Esprit Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield.
The veteran trainer said the weight and wide barrier would be tricky, but indicated the horse was ready to put his best foot forward.
“He’s got a bit of weight on his back,” he said.
“This is the race he won a couple of years when Steve rode him, then Stephen Baster rode him last year and he ran a good third.
“He will run really well on Saturday.”