Unstoppable Hitotsu wins the Australian Derby

Hitotsu (blue & pale yellow colours) is the second Group 1 winner for sensational Japanese shuttler Maurice, after Nakayama Sprinters S. G1 winner Pixie Knight, also foaled in 2018. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

Superstar 3YO colt Hitotsu has joined an elite group of Arrowfield graduates with an exceptional, off-the-canvas victory in the $2 million Australian Derby 2400m G1 on the first day of The Championships at Royal Randwick. 

Hitotsu’s third Group 1 win, after his Victoria Derby and Australian Guineas successes at Flemington, ranks him alongside the likes of Flying Spur, Forensics, Mentality,  Shoals & St Jude on Arrowfield’s honour roll. However, Hitotsu’s Group 1 treble in consecutive 3YO Classics across two campaigns in two States sets him, and his trainers Ciaron Maher & David Eustace apart. 

The son of Maurice also joins a list of Australian turf legends, including Hall of Famers Phar Lap, Tulloch, Poseidon & Dulcify, that have won both of Australia’s major Derbys, but he is the first to do it since Mahogany in 1994.

View Maurice’s 12 Inglis Easter 2022 yearlings.

Co-trainer Ciaron Maher explained what makes Hitotsu exceptional, “You’ve got to have the engine, you’ve got to have the lungs and I’m fortunate we’ve got a great team to prepare him.

“He probably put the writing on the wall about a month before the Guineas that he was in better shape than what he was two weeks before the Derby. That gave us a lot of confidence going into the Guineas.

We knew everything had to go right for him at the mile and he got a beautiful ride by Johnny [Allen]. Once he did that, I was full of confidence to come here.

“We will get him ready for a Cox Plate now, he doesn’t need to race the older horses. As you can see, he is still furnishing and we’ll take them on in the Spring.”

Hitotsu is from the same Arrowfield Class of 2018 as Group 1 winners Profondo & Yearning, Group winners Mallory & Flying Evelyn, and Listed winners Bend The Knee & Royalzel. (YEARLING PHOTO: Georgie Lomax)

Hitotsu was bred by Arrowfield with Alan Jones’ Belford Productions and Haydn Chambers and bought for $100,000 from Arrowfield’s 2020 Magic Millions Gold Coast draft by trainer Wendy Kelly and her husband Kevin, on behalf of owner Kevin Payne. 

After three unplaced, but promising efforts in Group company at two, he was sold for considerably more than $100,000 to Ozzie Kheir, John O’Neill and partners, with Kevin and his wife Vikki retaining a share in the colt who has now earned $3.1 million prizemoney from his four wins.

Hitotsu’s dam Love Is Fickle (by Redoute’s Choice), an inspired John Messara purchase as a yearling, has a 2YO filly named Twelfth Night in training with Matthew Smith for Francis & Christine Cook.

The Paynes bought Arrowfield’s Shalaa-Love Is Fickle filly for $250,000 at this year’s Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale, and the mare delivered a lovely Castelvecchio filly last Spring. 

As for Maurice, he has now taken the lead on Australia’s current 2nd Season Sires’ Premiership with 28 winners, two stakeswinners, 6 other stakes performers  (including Saturday’s Bendigo Guineas LR 3rd Sharp Response), and season earnings of $5.3 million.

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