Ronaldo has mighty win in WA Derby

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Ernie ManningThe West Australian
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Mighty Ronaldo wins tonight’s WA Derby in race record time when driven by trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice at Gloucester Park.
Camera IconMighty Ronaldo wins tonight’s WA Derby in race record time when driven by trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice at Gloucester Park. Credit: Hamilton Content Creators

Country-trained three-year-old Mighty Ronaldo upset a billed match-race when brilliantly winning the $200,000 Group 1 WA Derby (2536m) in race record time at Gloucester Park tonight.

Mighty Ronaldo, driven by Boyanup trainer-reinsman Justin Prentice and starting $7.60, swooped with a powerful run from seventh near the bell to score by 6m at a 1:56.1 rate.

The $2.10 favourite Jumpingjackmac set a fast pace and ran second, finishing a neck in front of third placegetter Sugar Street ($20.10).

Lavra Joe ($2.60) faced the breeze and finished fourth, more than 10m behind the winner.

Jumpingjackmac and Lavra Joe had been expected to fight out the Derby after dominating markets.

But they had no answer to Mighty Ronaldo when he secured clear running in the final lap, eclipsing the WA Derby’s 1:56.4 record shared by Chicago Bull (2016) and Patronus Star (2020).

Mighty Ronaldo, who started from barrier two, was shuffled back over the early stages and struck inconvenience in a first lap scrimmage.

Prentice became locked on the rails with him and was still midfield against the pegs 1000m out, but he was able to edge into space and allow the bay to unleash his finishing burst.

Justin Prentice relaxes in his sulky after driving Mighty Ronaldo to win the WA Derby, while his stable employee and trainee reinsman Kyle Symington holds the trophy.Picture: Hamilton Content Creators
Camera IconJustin Prentice relaxes in his sulky after driving Mighty Ronaldo to win the WA Derby, while his stable employee and trainee reinsman Kyle Symington holds the trophy.Picture: Hamilton Content Creators

A $125,000 Group 1 Golden Slipper winner at Gloucester Park last July, Mighty Ronaldo also triumphed in the $50,000 3YO colts and geldings Sales Classic early this season.

Part-owner Glen Mortimer said after the Derby that Mighty Ronaldo would go on to contest the $50,000 Pearl Classic next month and his long-term goal was the $200,000 Golden Nugget at Gloucester Park’s summer carnival.

“All credit to Justin for bringing the horse to his peak at feature event times,” Mortimer said.

“Our syndicate bought Mighty Ronaldo for $22,000 at a Perth yearling sale and he’s been a great earner.”

The Derby delivered Mighty Ronaldo’s fifth win and boosted his stakes past $270,000.

Mortimer said Mighty Ronaldo’s emergence had been some compensation for his classy stablemate Rocknroll Lincoln’s leg injury after winning the 2019 WA Pacing Cup. “Most of us shareholders in Mighty Ronaldo are also part-owners of Rocknroll Lincoln,” he said.

“The leg trouble has restricted him to only a few starts since the cup win.

“He’s recently returned from another long spell and Justin is giving him light work, in the hope he can make a racing comeback.”

Prentice, who drove Im Victorious to win the 2012 WA Derby for trainer Michael Brennan, notched his first win as a trainer in the classic when Mighty Ronaldo was successful.

Major Martini, trained by Prentice, ran a close second in last year’s Derby.

Prentice, who has rarely driven in races over the past two seasons, now prefers to book top reinsman Gary Hall for most of his stable’s runners.

Hall had first call on driving Mighty Ronaldo in the Derby. But he stayed with Jumpingjackmac, who is trained by his father, Gary Hall Sr.

Jumpingjackmac took an early lead from gate four while Chris Lewis dropped back with Lavra Joe, who had a second-line draw.

Lavra Joe dashed to second position near the 1600m. However, a tough run outside the leader took its toll.

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