Kiwis are galloping under the radar
Much of the international attention surrounding the Spring Racing carnival has been focused on the European brigade, but our trans-Tasman rivals have frequently upstaged local thoroughbreds.
Targeting specific races and sending only their best, New Zealand trained gallopers have had an excellent winning rate for the small amount of horses they send over.
With yesterday’s season-ending injury to Manighar, Gary Hennesy trained Ocean Park goes into the G1 Caulfield Stakes as favourite and will be leading the non-Pierro chances in the Cox Plate following his win in the G1 Underwood Stakes.
Prior to taking out the Underwood Stakes, Ocean Park won the G1 Mafki Challenge (WFA, 1400m) back in New Zealand, which over the past years has been a good form race for the Melbourne spring.
In 2010, King Mufhasa won the Mafki before running second in the G1 Windsor Park Plate (WFA, 1600m) behind Jimmy Choux. King Mufhasa was then sent to Caulfield to contest the G1 Toorak Handicap which he won with top weight.
After the Toorak, King Mufhasa returned to New Zealand where he won a further G1 win in the Captain Cook Stakes (WFA, 1600m) and a second placing in the G1 Waikato Sprint (WFA, 1400m), a race he’d won twice before.
Returning to Australia in the 2012 autumn, King Mufhasa took out the G1 Futurity Stakes (WFA, 1600m) beating home Pinker Pinker before once again returning to New Zealand. Having amassed over $2.6million in prize-money, he is an outright WFA superstar in Australasia and still racing strong as an eight-year-old.
King Mufhasa has once again returned to seek back-to-back wins in the Toorak Handicap, where he takes on More Joyous.
Now retired to stud, Jimmy Choux set the world on fire last season as the second favourite for the Cox Plate. By Thorn Park, Jimmy Choux was a multiple G1 winning stallion, winning six of his seven starts.The only blemish was a second to King Mufhasa in the Mafki.
Settling in the 2011 Cox Plate on the fence behind the leaders, he was given a dream run and looked the winner throughout the entire race. He’d taken the lead at the 200m mark and looked to be pulling away before Pinker Pinker stormed down the centre of the track for an unlikely win.
The Kiwis extended their streak to three G1 VRC Derbies in a row after Sangster won the three-year-old classic in 2011. New Zealand trained gallopers Lion Tamer and Monaco Consul won the classic in 2010 and 2009 respectively.
Following his victory in the VRC Derby, Lion Tamer floated across the Tasman once more for a tilt at the 2011 Melbourne Cup, which he was instilled as favourite following his win in the 2011 Underwood Stakes, but an unfortunate injury sustained in the Cox Plate ended his career prematurely.
Over in Australia’s west, New Zealand trained He’s Remarkable took on the G1 Railway Stakes at Ascot where he was first past the post but extremely unlucky to have the victory stripped from him on protest.
In the past three years Kiwis have had G1 success in three VRC Derbies, two Underwood Stakes’, the Toorak Handicap, the Futurity Stakes and the Emirates Stakes (Wall Street, 2010). They have also run second in the Cox Plate, Railway Stakes and Rosehill Guineas.
All the recent form lines suggest New Zealand racing is extremely strong. They’re best continually succeeded when floated over and it could be a sign of where Australian racing is heading.
Group 1 races in New Zealand are generally worth about $150,000 which is paltry to Australia’s minimum of $350,000. Because of this, the short travel distance and similarity in tracks makes sense for New Zealand’s best to raid Australian races in the years to come.
They’re strike rate is much higher than the European imports, so international threats appear much closer to home than first thought.
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