Sharp 'N' Smart, Graeme & Debbie Rogerson and James McDonald join forces in the prestigious Group 1 VRC Derby. Sharp 'N' Smart pictured winning in the G1 Spring Champion Stakes.

Photo credit \ Racing & Sports, Steve Hart (photographer)

Proven Group 1 Combination Reunited

Graeme Rogerson and James McDonald share a significant Group 1 success together and have high hopes another beckons them at Flemington on Saturday.

In 2011, the Tuhikaramea trainer and his wife Debbie provided McDonald with his maiden victory at the highest level in Australia when he guided Scarlett Lady to claim the G1 Queensland Oaks.

The trio will again join forces in a prestige event with McDonald to partner the G1 VRC Derby contender Sharp ‘N’ Smart.

Meanwhile at Rosehill, Tarzino’s daughter Gypsy Goddess will make her sole appearance for the spring in the A$10 million Golden Eagle.

She has won six of her nine starts and will run first-up over 1500 metres in her first appearance since landing the G1 Queensland Oaks.

The Westbury Stud-bred Sharp ‘N’ Smart, who is part-owned by farm principal Gerry Harvey, will be shooting for a memorable hat-trick of wins after the Redwood three-year-old’s successes in the G3 Gloaming Stakes and last weekend’s G1 Spring Champion Stakes.

Rogerson previously won the Derby in 2006 with Efficient while Ebony Grosve (1996), Savabeel (2004) and Duelled (2005) all ran second.

He has no concerns about backing up Sharp ‘N’ Smart and said he had travelled well from Sydney.

"He's tough and thrives on racing. He's super fit. He's a happy horse and we're very excited going into the race on Saturday. We couldn't be any happier with him."

Sharp 'N' Smart is also likely to be nominated for the G1 Champion Stakes at Flemington on Saturday week, but Rogerson said that he was by no means a certain starter and any decision would be made in the best interests of the horse.

The rising star was guided to his Sydney heroics by Hugh Bowman, who has had to forego the mount at Flemington with prior commitments in Sydney, and he believes Sharp ‘N’ Smart can win again.

“He is a horse with a lot of class, he is still learning his trade and lacks a little bit of race sense at times, but he did a really good job the other day,” he told racing.com.

“He was wide on his own but got into a good, consistent rhythm which you need to do to win the VRC Derby.

“He just needs to be able to be in the right spot at the right time when the pressure starts to build. I can’t see the 2500m being an issue, in fact, I think it will be to his liking.”

Rogerson is also equally confident on the distance score and is already thinking ahead to a return trip to Australia next spring with the G1 Caulfield Cup and G1 Melbourne Cup very much on the radar.

Also in action at Flemington on Saturday is the Westbury graduate The Inferno, who will make a rare appearance over 1400 metres in the G2 Linlithgow Stakes.

The nine-time winner has only been over the trip once when he was successful in the Listed Singapore Classic in 2020.

The Inferno’s two most recent runs have resulted in a fourth placing in the G2 McEwen Stakes and was then unplaced in the G1 Moir Stakes. Both were on soft tracks and any underfoot improvement would suit Cliff Brown’s stable star.

The David Vandyke-trained Gypsy Goddess will be chasing a A$5,250,000 winning stake in the Golden Eagle.

“She had a very long, arduous time as a three-year-old and we just wanted to give her a nice, little preparation and the one run seemed ideal,” Vandyke told RacingHQ.

“The prizemoney was a big drawcard. She is a mare that has raced very well first-up over the 1400 metres to mile distance. With a couple of trials under her belt, we have her nice and forward.”

“She has strengthened up a little bit, mentally she is in a great place. Physically and mentally, she is ahead of where she was at the end of last prep.

“After Saturday’s performance she will enjoy a bit of time out and we will see a really good mare next year.”