The Patrick Payne-trained Dunkel was huge late reeling in the nearly all-the-way leader Promises Kept to post a brave win in the 149th edition of the time-honoured Group 1 $500,000 South Australian Derby (2500m) at Morphettville on Saturday.
The summer’s Tasmanian Derby winning son of Dundeel bounced back fresh off a two month let-up atoning for an unplaced March run in The Valley’s Alister Clark when charging home the closing stages in a thrilling SA Derby result in Adelaide.
Payne, who missed the race being in Flemington for the day, won the South Australian Derby as a hoop aboard the Mick Kent-trained Bullwinkle in 1994.
Just shy of three decades later and the Plumpton-based horseman won the race again to break his Group 1 maiden status as a trainer.
The SA Derby win was also the first Group 1 victory for jockey Billy Egan who gave Dunkel a gun ride throughout.
“It’s good to get the monkey off the back,” Egan told Racing.com.
Egan kept his cool when Dunkel got shuffled back the early stages, improving his position to sit fourth approaching the home turn before making the big run down the straight.
Up front looking to go all-the-way for the punters was the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace-trained top elect Promises Kept racing fresh.
The dominant Bendigo St. Leger Trial winner looked like handing the stable a second SA Derby trophy in three years after their 2021 victory with Explosive Jack.
Promises Kept ($4F) hit the front early and was out by a big margin before showing the way around the turn and dashing for home at the 300m.
Hitting another gear at the 200m the favourite was eventually brought down by Dunkel ($8) who reeled them in and stormed across the line first by three-quarters of a length.
“We had to work our way through them,” Egan said.
“He’s got that sort of killer instinct. Every horse out there he wants to pass and that’s what he did.
“The further we got into the straight the harder my bloke tried and, as I said, when he sees a horse in front of him, he wants to pass it.”
Two lengths off the SA Derby winner in third was Aberfeldie Boy ($10) in another Group 1 Derby placing after his third in the VRC Derby last November.