Find betting tips, analysis and strategy on one of New Zealand’s feature races – the New Zealand Derby – headed by NZ form analyst Jason Tan. Racing tips are online now!

New Zealand Derby – 3YO GROUP 1

Distance: 2400m Rail Position: True Position | Track Condition: Dead 4 – Upgrade likely

The New Zealand Derby is an iconic Group 1 race over 2400m open to all horses that are three years old. It’s held at Ellerslie, an undulating, right-handed turf track.

Form out of the New Zealand Derby flows into the key Autumn and Spring races in Australia, with horses like Gingernuts, Mongolian Khan and Silent Achiever winning Group 1 races subsequent to NZ Derby success.

When the rail is in the true position on this day, Ellerslie has proven to be a very fair track, with winners coming across the width of the home straight.


  • The key lead-up race is the Avondale Guineas. Typically run 2-weeks before, nine of the last 10 Derby winners have run in the Avondale Guineas, with six of them winning it before the Derby.
  • Five favourites have won the Derby, with two second-favourites saluting first.
  • Crown Prosecutor won in 2019 at a $105.40 SP.
  • 20 fillies have started during this time, with two winning, Silent Achiever (2012) and Habibi (2013) – both started favourite.
  • Two other fillies have started favourite with both horses placing, Two Illicit 2nd (2020) and Danzdanzdance 3rd (2018).
  • Eight of 10 winners have been within 2.5-lengths of the lead at the 600m, with last year’s winner Rocket Spade being the furthest off the leader, around 4-lengths at the 600m.


There is very little natural speed in the 2022 New Zealand Derby. LA CRIQUE will go forward, and rider Vinny Colgan will likely see MARCHAND work across the face of the field towards the front. ARJAY’S FLIGHT can track LA CRIQUE, with TUTUKAKA a chance to be rousted-up to sit in the first four or five horses in the running. This race typically sees a mid-race slackening of the tempo and that’s more likely this year, although from the 1000m there could be moves from horses like ESS VEE ARE and REGAL LION who don’t have the turn-of-foot that a couple of other horses possess. PINARELLO really took riding last time, but maybe he could settle in the first half of the field if his mind is on the job.


1. TUTUKAKA (11) (Rated Price $19)

There is a huge difference between his best and worst performances and knowing when he will “put in” has become a challenge. If he is switched-on early and asked to run (I think that’ll be the plan) then his best would clearly be good enough to have him in the winning fight if La Crique were to underperform.

2. WHITE NOISE (4) (RP $12)

He’s proven himself to be a very genuine three-year-old that has raced like the NZ Derby would suit him. He is well-drawn, which should mean he can naturally settle in a handy position without working too hard. His closing 400m & 200m sectionals in the Avondale Guineas were only bettered by La Crique. He’s a leading chance from a stable that specialises in winning Derbies and Oaks.

3. MARCHAND (13) (RP $23)

He ran well in the Avondale Guineas, although his last-200m sectional was a length or two inferior than a couple of other leading chances. I expect that they’ll push forward with him, and he could control a “sit and sprint” Derby, that would give him his best chance of causing an upset of sorts.

4. SOLDIER BOY (7) (RP $351)

The blinkers go back on (raced in visor blinkers prior) after a listless lead-up run over 1600m in rating 65 company. His best level would have him a place chance here, but he’s woefully out of form and couldn’t be entertained.

5. NEST EGG (5) (RP $151)

He’s a promising staying type, but his run in the Avondale Guineas said that he is likely to be a prep away from being competitive in a race like this.

6. ARJAY’S FLIGHT (3) (RP $23)

He’s drawn to track La Crique throughout the race, as he did in the Avondale Guineas. He was given every chance then and couldn’t beat her, so it’s hard to see him turning the tables. That said, whilst he’s a maiden, his performances have him rating amongst the best third-tier chances.

7. PINARELLO (9) (RP $5.25)

He’s the clear second-pick in the race following a very impressive win in a R65 event on the same day, track, and trip as the Avondale Guineas. His performance rated about 2-lengths inferior when adjusted for weight, so he has a bit to find, but is capable of that without a doubt. He should relish the extra distance and showed that he can sprint off a slow speed. Given he returned a positive efficiency rating last start, he should be able to absorb a faster overall tempo as well.

8. YES WE KHAN (8) (RP $1001)

He’s been beaten out of sight his last three starts. They’ve removed the tongue-tie for this. Can’t make a case for him at all.

9. REGAL LION (6) – RP $51)

He got squeezed out of it at the start of the Avondale Guineas and worked home okay late in the race. His prior run in the Waikato Guineas suggested he wasn’t far away from third-tier chances like Arjay’s Flight. He races and is bred like he’ll relish the 2400m Derby distance. With that in mind, he could be a candidate to take off at the 1000m, or sooner, so it becomes a staying test.

10. ESS VEE ARE (10) (RP $81)

This son of Shocking has been touted a Derby horse from his first raceday start and has proven to be a very one-paced type. Pinarello beat him easily last time with a superior last-400m, and he falls into a similar category as Regal Lion, in that a staying test might see him be more competitive.

11. PRIVILEGED SON (2) (RP $151)

He comes out of a weak maiden and hasn’t put up the requisite rating to say he could be competitive.

12. ASTERIX (12) (RP $151)

Has a very similar profile to Privileged Son. He would have to improve a lot to be a factor.

13. LA CRIQUE (1) (RP $1.85)

She’s the sole filly in the race, but clearly the horse to beat. Her Avondale Guineas win was excellent after a similar domination against her own sex in stakes company over a mile. She has tactical speed to take a position, relaxes in the running and has shown the ability to sprint quickly at the end of 2100m. She’s bred to handle the 2400m and importantly, races like it won’t be an issue. She rates well clear and looks the class element in the race.


1st – #13 – La Crique

2nd – #6 – Pinarello

3rd – #9 – White Noise

4th – #4 – Tutukaka


The 2022 New Zealand Derby sees a smaller field than usual assembled and an event that lacks overall depth. LA CRIQUE is clearly the horse to beat based on her overall form this season, her peak ratings, and a compelling win in the tried and true “Derby lead-up”, the Avondale Guineas. If she is presented in the same form, then only bad luck and/or pilot error could beat her. PINARELLO is a relatively lightly-raced gelding that was very impressive winning a lower-grade race on the same day as La Crique.

Whilst the overall performance rated inferior, he could conceivably improve to a level that would have him not far off the favourite. His inexperience is a negative, as over the last 10-years, the least amount of starts a Derby winner has had prior has been six, with the average being closer to eight. Pinarello has only had four.

WHITE NOISE is trained by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, and he is drawn to naturally settle closer in the running than in the Avondale Guineas. His last 400m & 200m of that race were strong and suggest that he’ll run well over 2400m. TUTUKAKA is a hard horse to price. At his best he could justify being second favourite, but he has put in two terribly below-par efforts this preparation. La Crique deserves top billing as the odds-on favourite and anything $2+ looks fair enough. Nothing else appeals.


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