By Greg White
ASTUTE trainer Ken Lantry has no doubt the trophy for the Group 1 BMW Queensland Derby should be in Coffs Harbour.
His exciting three-year-old King Of The Nile was a 'certainty beaten' in Saturday's blue riband event at Eagle Farm after storming to the line to beat all but the placegetters.
"Even the jockey (Jason Taylor) said he should have won after he had awful luck in the race," Lantry said.
"He admitted he made his final run earlier than he should have and the horse became unbalanced and was carted almost to the outside fence on the home corner.
"At the finish he was going stronger than anything else in the race."
Owned by the Moorhead family, who farm at Baryulgil, the lightly raced son of King Cugat (US) won his maiden at Grafton on October 10 last year before further wins at Coffs Harbour and Grafton, and Lantry has always had a high opinion of the gelding's ability, not frightened to step him up to listed races.
King Of The Nile gave early notice of his potential with a fast-finishing fifth in the G3 Rough Habit Plate at Doomben on May 26, ironically beaten by his Derby conqueror, Empire's Choice.
"He's a big, lean bugger but still a bit immature in his body," the trainer said.
"After the Derby we sent him to a paddock outside Brisbane and he can have three months off to relax and get some sunshine.
"When I bring him back I'll work on filling him out and hopefully, he'll be good enough to take on some better races down the way."
Since starting his training career at Motto Farm outside Newcastle, Lantry has been noted for his knack of finding and developing quality racehorses.
And the fact the horse is bred on stout bloodlines is an extra reason for enthusiasm.
His sireline traces back to the great Northern Dancer, with super sire Ribot close-up in the dam line.
On both sides of the pedigree is a cross to the world's most successful stallion, Raise A Native.
"I love stayers," Lantry said.
"If he comes up as well as we hope, as a mature horse in the spring next year he could win something big."
The emergence of a potential star stayer means the Coffs Harbour industry now has all bases covered by an equine 'gang of three'.
Takeover Target continues to dominate around the world in short-course dashes and the imminent return of Natural Destiny should take care of the middle distance events.
Lantry laughs at the obvious comparison.
"Let him have his holiday first and then see what happens," he said.