Weight of history against Dark Dream's Melbourne Cup hopes

Jockey Tim Clark rides Dark Dream (left) wins the Queensland Derby at Doomben on Saturday. Picture: AAP Image/Albert Perez
Jockey Tim Clark rides Dark Dream (left) wins the Queensland Derby at Doomben on Saturday. Picture: AAP Image/Albert Perez

It’s a feat not even the great Kingston Town could manage.

Kembla Grange trainer Kerry Parker has a potential Melbourne Cup contender on his hands, after Dark Dream out-stayed Darren Weir’s Heavenly Thought to win the Queensland Derby on Saturday.

But there’s a weight of history against the form line of a Queensland Derby winner converting success in the 3200m race that stops a nation on the first Tuesday in November. Delving into the history books, Kingston Town won the 2400m Brisbane Group 1 in 1980, but was scratched from the Melbourne Cup, before being run down by Gurner’s Lane in the last 100m of the great race in 1982.

Yippio finished second to Brew in the 2000 Melbourne Cup after winning the 1997 Queensland Derby.

Still, Parker has every reason to be encouraged about Dark Dream’s ability to last the 3200m on the biggest stage, after jockey Tim Clark launched a sustained run from the 600m to, aside from Heavenly Thought’s challenge, leave the rest of the field in his wake. 

“I know how strong he is,” Parker said after the race.

“… He is going better when the races get longer, and a race like the Melbourne Cup is there for him in the spring.”

Clark had praised Parker’s decision to ease back on Dark Dream’s preparation after a hoof problem when finishing third to Heavenly Thought in the 2200m Grand Prix Stakes a fortnight beforehand.

“Kerry held his nerve. He could have overworked the horse and not had a horse for the Derby,” Clark said. 

“He trusted himself to back off him a bit, and he had him cherry ripe.

“Weiry’s horses aren’t easy to get past, and he was able to outstay him.”

Kingston Town famously won three Cox Plates in the same 1980-82 period, which could be surpassed by Winx this year, but was luckless in the Melbourne Cup.

With the overseas raiders sure to prove difficult to beat again, Lloyd Williams’ defending champion Rekindling is favourite in the all-in futures markets, though owner Lloyd Williams has said he’s unlikely to run again because of the expected weight penalty.

Dark Dream is $61 with Sportsbet and $101 with TAB.

The soon-to-be four-year-old gelding is also $26 in the Caulfield Cup futures market.

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