Kembla Grange trainer Kerry Parker's Group 1 hope with Dark Dream

Riding high: Dark Dream (right) will race in the Group 1 Queensland Derby on Saturday.  Picture: AAP Image/Albert Perez
Riding high: Dark Dream (right) will race in the Group 1 Queensland Derby on Saturday. Picture: AAP Image/Albert Perez

Kerry Parker has been close a few times. 

Brilliant Light had sight of Anzac Parade he was so wide in the 2010 Randwick Doncaster Mile, but ran a huge race to finish third.

Aliyana Tilde was nosed out by Streama in the 2012 ATC Oaks and third to Mourayan at the Sydney Cup. 

Parker’s been to the Melbourne Cup twice, in 1994 when AJC St Leger winner Gold Sovereign led and trailed off last, and again with light-weight $61 shot Don Raphael, 20th after beating Catchmeifyoucan in the 2004 then-named Group 3 Saab Quality.

Don Raphael had claimed a black-type treble that spring, but a Group 1 has always eluded Parker. 

On Saturday, the Kembla Grange trainer is optimistic his time has arrived, in the Queensland Derby at Doomben.

“They’re not easy to win, your chances are few and far between,” Parker said. 

“I’ve had plenty of winners, but it would be up there with the best that’s for sure, it’d be great to win (a Group 1).

“With even luck we’ll be there in the finish, it’s what we came up here for.”

As of Friday afternoon, Dark Dream had edged into favouritism, ahead of a field including Darren Weir’s Heavenly Thought and Lucky For All, John O’Shea’s Live and Free and the Chris Waller-trained Youngstar, who will have to overcome the widest barrier to win.

An impressive second in a Class 1 over 1400m at Kembla Grange, at his second start, convinced Parker he had something special.

Preparing for his 10th career run, Dark Dream is yet to miss a placing, including a breathtaking four-length win in the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate last month.

Parker declared Dark Dream had also recovered well from a hoof issue when running third at Doomben two weeks ago.

“He’s had a really nice gallop this week,” he said. 

“He lost a shoe and the toe clip went into a very sensitive part of the hoof, but he’s 100 percent.”

Doomben was rated a Heavy 8 after more than 20 millimetres of rain on Thursday.  Brisbane Racing Club manager Matt Rudolph told Sky Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast it could potentially be upgraded into the Soft range if it stays dry before the meeting, which also includes the Stradbroke Handicap, JJ Atkins and Brisbane Cup. 

But Dark Dream has already shown he can handle the going, finishing second on a Heavy track at Kembla in March, before blitzing the field on a Soft 5 in the Rough Habit. 

Just 25 minutes before the Queensland Derby, Parker’s attention will be turned to stablemate Red Dream, chasing his fourth consecutive win in the Stayers Cup at Randwick. 

QUEENSLAND DERBY

Group 1, Saturday, Doomben (3.35pm)

Market: Dark Dream $4.50, Heavenly Thought $5, Live And Free, Lucky For All $6, Youngstar $7, Mahamedeis, Han Xin $18, Banner Season $23, Merovee, Ombudsman $26, California Turbo $31, Rezealient, Augustus $34, Almighty Crown, Surprise Bullet $51, Won Won Too, Destiny’s Hero $61, Captivator, Turnberry $81, Bart $101.

Top hope: Kerry Parker trains the Queensland Derby favourite.

Top hope: Kerry Parker trains the Queensland Derby favourite.

Rival: Jockey Kerrin McEvoy will have overcome a wide barrier with Youngstar.

Rival: Jockey Kerrin McEvoy will have overcome a wide barrier with Youngstar.