Chris Waller setting his sights on Queensland Derby

Champion trainer Chris Waller is setting his sights on back-to-back wins in the Queensland Derby after Caboche all but booked his ticket north with a gallant effort at Scone.

The three-year-old loomed up to win Saturday’s Pages Event Hire Benchmark 78 Hcp (2200m) but was just edged out in the final bounds by older stablemate Bonny Ezra.

Charlie Duckworth, representing the Waller stable, said Caboche lost nothing in defeat and remained on target for the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on May 28.

The gelding is part-owned by Neville Morgan, who also races last year’s Queensland Derby winner Kukeracha, which like Caboche sports Morgan’s colours of white with royal blue hooped sleeves and cap.

“He was just out-toughed by an older horse, a seasoned Kiwi horse and we all know how tough they are. It just made Caboche (to be) found wanting late,” Duckworth said of his narrow defeat at Scone.

“Almost certainly he will go towards the Derby.

“(Owners) Nev and Jenny Morgan won the race last year with Kukeracha, so they will be hoping for a repeat.”

Like Kukeracha, Caboche campaigned in Queensland during the summer where his efforts included a fourth to subsequent ATC Australian Oaks runner-up Gypsy Goddess in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2100m).

Saturday’s Scone race was his third run from a spell and should have him peaking for the Derby.

Kukeracha has made an encouraging start to his latest winter carnival campaign, winning the Tails Stakes two starts ago before finishing a game third behind Zaaki in the Hollindale Stakes at the Gold Coast.

The four-year-old is an $11 chance for his rematch with the star galloper in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) on Saturday.

Zaaki captured the Hollindale Stakes-Doomben Cup double 12 months ago and is a $1.50 favourite to repeat the dose.

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