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Tue 4 May 2021

By Glenn Davis

Trainer Peter Hulbert is hopeful Criminal Defence can provide him with his first Queensland Derby runner if the gelding passes a distance test at Eagle Farm on Wednesday.

Hulbert has been training for more than 40 years and has never trained a three-year-old good enough to start in the 2400-metre Group 1 feature.

The 75-year-old has been training in partnership with his son Will for the past few years and believes Criminal Defence will be ideally suited by a step up in distance to 1845 metres in the QTIS Three-Year-Old Handicap.

A son of Nicconi, Criminal Defence has started only nine times for a solitary win in a 1200-metre maiden at the Sunshine Coast in November last year.

Hulbert’s apprentice Adin Thompson has been the gelding’s regular rider, missing only two of his nine starts, but will hand over the riding duties to the more experienced Michael Rodd.

Criminal Defence worked home well last start to finish fifth behind the Kevin Kemp-trained Linthorpe Lad in a 1666-metre Three-Year-Old race at Ipswich last month.

“He was a bit unlucky last start,” Hulbert said.

“Adin went to come out at the 600 metres and got pushed back in and lost a couple of lengths.

“I think he’ll be hard to beat and if he runs well, we’ll think about the Queensland Derby.”

Hulbert knows it’s a massive leap in class from a midweek city race to a Group 1 but believes Criminal Defence shows all the signs of being a stayer.

“He races like 1800 metres will suit him and he’s been running through the line well suggesting he'll want further,” Hulbert said.

“I’m confident he’ll go well but I’ll be a lot wiser after the race.

“If he wins the plan is to step him up further in distance and head towards the Derby but he’ll probably need more prizemoney to get in.

“I’ve found over the years a lot of horses look very strong at the end of 1600 metres and can’t get 1800 metres let alone the Derby distance.

“But this horse is very promising and has been slow to mature so the next couple of runs will tell us more.”

Hulbert has named the Kevin Kemp-trained Linthorpe Lad as the main threat.

“Linthorpe Lad beat us last start at Ipswich and he looks the biggest danger again,” he said.

“We’ve met him twice and he’s beaten us both times.”