Talking Points: Saturday - 1st of June 2024

A Derby annihilation creates a genuine Cups contender- but how does it stack up worldwide?

WARMONGER winning the Ladbrokes Queensland Derby
WARMONGER winning the Ladbrokes Queensland Derby Picture: Michael McInally/Racing Queensland

An enormous win in the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) by Warmonger who simply proved to be far and away the best stayer in a genuinely run race. His 10.4 length winning margin is (I believe) the biggest in an Australian Group 1 since Might And Power in the 1998 Queen Elizabeth, which was recorded at 10.5 lengths.

As you'd expect, he's run a big new peak rating, coming in at 121 on the R&S scale, which actually isn't the highest rating for that race this century, although a certain R&S handicapper wasn't around back then and might dispute that number…

Anyway, officially that honour goes to De Gaulle Lane in 2001, a 4.5 length winner who was given a mark of 122. In those 20 running's, the mean winning rating is 115.

Remarkably again, which we often find with lower rated 'classic' winners, De Gaulle Lane never won another race, but also wasn't given much opportunity to do so- in eight subsequent career runs he raced over a mile once and the rest over shorter. Blasphemy!

Back on Warmonger- many will potentially want to stamp him off such a huge margin win, but margins can be misleading. Plenty of horses in this race were found out badly by the solid tempo and dropped out badly. The margin is a function of the pace and conditions, which Warmonger relished.

That said, he's still very promising and has rightfully been put on a Cups path. Compare this with Kovalica last year, who ran to 115 and was put on a Golden Eagle path, Warmonger should have no issue running two miles with a bit more furnishing.

In terms of Derby winners country-wide this century, Warmonger is still right up there.

The Victoria Derby's best winner in that time is Polanski in 2013, running to 123, who we unfortunately only saw once more when suffering a career ending injury at his reappearance.

Efficient, who would come back to win the Melbourne Cup the next year, ran to the same mark as Warmonger in his Derby win – 121. He's run to 123 to win the Cup.

Over to Sydney, where the best winner of the ATC Derby this century is Dundeel, who ran to 125 when winning by six lengths. He'd run to 129 in his QEII win two starts later. The ATC Derby has a swathe of winners over the 120 mark with just four runners (all at 119, including Riff Rocket) below that 120 mark.

It's A Dundeel winning in the David Jones Australian Derby
It's A Dundeel winning in the David Jones Australian Derby Picture: Racing and Sports

In South Australia, only Russian Camelot (122) has rated above Warmonger this century. The next highest was Mummify (117) who went on to win three Australian Group Ones.

For some more, international reference, New Zealand's best Derby winner this century is Mongolian Khan, another Caulfield Cup winner, who ran to 120 in his 2015 Derby win.

Further afield to the likes of Japan, Hong Kong, Europe and America, where there is far more importance placed on Classics, and things start to be put into perspective.

In Hong Kong, where the Derby is run for four-year-olds, the best winner is Designs On Rome at 123 in 2014.

In Japan, things really heat up, with Deep Impact running to an enormous 131 in 2005 while the lowest rated winner sits at 117.

Over to England for 'The' Derby at Epsom (run on Saturday night) where the best winner on the same scale was Workforce at 133 in 2010, with five other runners this century cracking the 130 mark. The lowest in that time is 119.

City Of Troy, who won this year's edition, ran to 125 which is about average and no better than what he'd done at two. It's the same rating Auguste Rodin ran last year.

CITY OF TROY (left, dark blue cap) winning the Epsom Derby at Epsom Downs in England.
CITY OF TROY (left, dark blue cap) winning the Epsom Derby at Epsom Downs in England. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

In France, Lope De Vega holds the call as the highest rated Derby winner at 128.

And finally in America, the Kentucky Derby has a winning range of 132-119 headlined by Big Brown in 2008 while more recently, American Pharoah (128) and Justify (125) have won the race.

Warmonger will be a fascinating horse going into the Spring, because off what we've seen so far, he doesn't have the speed in his legs to be competitive (i.e. running 120+) over shorter trips, or off slower tempos, although that can certainly change and he can become more adaptable in time.

The horse he's been compared to is Vow And Declare, who ran second in the Queensland Derby, running to 112, a rating he matched when winning the Group 3 Tattersalls Cup (3000m) in dominant fashion. He'd then run 117 in all three Spring runs, the Turnbull, Caulfield Cup and when winning the Melbourne Cup with 52kg.

That Warmonger is already rated 121 with plenty of staying potential reads well for his chances come the first Tuesday in November, and I would have as the second best local seed behind Without A Fight, if he were to recover and target another Cup.