Australasia's greatest day of racing, Saturday's Victoria Derby Day at Flemington, saw some brilliant performances with four New Zealand Bloodstock graduates showcasing their potential for their Group 1 features this week.
The Group 3 $250,000 VRC Lexus Stakes (2500m) is well known as a form race for the Melbourne Cup with last year's winner Shocking backing up to record Cup victory last year. Trainer John Hawkes will be hoping history can repeat with his new star, the highly talented Maluckyday (Zabeel x Natalie Wood) who beat a cracking field home in the Group 3.
In a strong performance, Maluckyday went into Saturday's Lexus Stakes with only seven runs under his belt and just one start beyond 2000 metres.
Settling at the back of the field for the race, Jim Cassidy took Maluckyday wide around the pack on the home corner, trailing Linton into the straight.
In a fairly quiet ride to the last furlong, Maluckyday kept with Linton as the pair ran down run down race leader Once Were Wild. At the 150 metre mark Cassidy asked Maluckyday for a big effort and he raced away to win the biggest test of his career. New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Graduate Linton ran into second place, a quinella for NZB graduates.
"He's a serious horse", winning jockey Jim Cassidy said.
"I think he's the next Kiwi and he wouldn't blow a match out after that race.
"There's a lot more fun to come."
A promising statement given Jim Cassidy rode Kiwi to win the Melbourne Cup back in 1983.
The Hawkes team have decided to run Maluckyday in the Melbourne Cup after Saturday's win.
"It was a serious decision to make and it was a tough decision as he is still a kid, the Melbourne Cup would only be his ninth start," said Wayne Hawkes.
"We've only had two Saturday races in Sydney in preparation for today as we didn't want to push him too hard to early. He's still a bit green, he did a bit wrong today as he wanted to lay in a bit in the straight, he's still learning.
"We were quite happy to scratch him from the Melbourne Cup and go to the Queen Elizabeth which was our original plan but he's pulled up so well and he's drawn beautifully for the cup, we have to have a crack.
"We think he is a very serious horse, the real deal and he is a big chance on Tuesday."
The TAB thinks so as well, after drawing barrier six for the Melbourne Cup, Maluckyday has gone from over $100 a few weeks ago, to third favourite at $8.50.
Carrying 53 kilograms on Saturday, Maluckyday will only be asked to carry only 51 kilograms tomorrow.
Bought by Hawkes Racing for $625,000 from the 2008 Karaka Premier Yearling Sale, Maluckyday has had only eight starts and has notched up five wins and three placings for over $278,000 in stakes.
Maluckyday looks to be yet another star for New Zealand super sire Zabeel and is one of the stallion's three runners in the Melbourne Cup along with Precedence and Zavite. Zabeel is the most successful Melbourne Cup sire in history with three wins in the great race through Efficient, Might and Power and Jezabeel.
In another famous lead up race, this time for the Group 1 VRC Oaks, tough filly Brazilian Pulse showed her metal in winning the Group 2 $300,000 VRC Wakeful Stakes (2000m).
Having absolutely no favours in the running, Craig Williams and Brazilian Pulse (Captain Rio x Sharazad) were posted three wide, no cover, for the entire race. In a brilliant ride, Williams made do with the situation and allowed his mount to settle beautifully for the running.
Coming wide into the straight, Brazilian Pulse worked her way down the straight and ranged up to the leaders at the 150 metre mark. Showing just how tough she is, she found another gear and kicked away from race leader Hearts are for Love to win by over a length.
The performance had Craig Williams shaking his head as he crossed the line, clearly taken by the filly's performance.
"We didn't have the best run, three-wide and no cover just off the pace.
"But I was there and I just had to trust in her and I've got enough confidence in her to do that, we just had be patient."
"I didn't want to go too early because she gets to the front and gets a bit lost so I just had to trust her.
"I'm looking forward to the Oaks on her."
Trainer Mike Moroney was very pleased with Brazilian Pulse's win and is looking forward to the Group 1 VRC Oaks.
"She's a lovely filly to do anything with.
"A lot of good fillies have got quirks about them, but she's just a lovely, quiet filly with a great nature and is very, very tough.
Moroney is confident that the filly will have little trouble backing up on Thursday in the Group 1 feature.
"I'd be surprised if it does knock her out.
"She is just that sort filly, nothing really worries her. She's casual on the track and doesn't take a lot out of herself."
Purchased by Paul Moroney Bloodstock, Brazilian Pulse has proven a wonderful investment as she was bought for only $26,000 from the 2009 Karaka Select Sale. A model of consistency, she has registered three wins and two placings from five starts and has earned her connections almost $300,000.
Topping off an exceptional weekend of performances in Melbourne and New Zealand, graduates of the Karaka sale ring notched up 14 victories in Hong Kong and Singapore on Sunday evening.
Of the ten races scheduled at Hong Kong's Happy Valley seven were won by NZB graduates, with Tuscan Spirit (Chianti x Fortelo) spearheading the Kiwi onslaught with a victory in the HK Class 1 Cheung Hong Handicap (1200m).
The John Size trained gelding registered victory by a nose from Royal Flush while the son of O'Reilly and fellow Karaka graduate, Kildare, came home just over a length away for third.
Tuscan Spirit was a $40,000 purchase by Mr WJ Stretton from Hallmark Stud at the 2007 Festival Yearling Sale and has gone on to amass career earnings of $1,026,924.
A 2008 Premier Yearling Sale purchase by the Hong Kong Jockey Club for $210,000 from Brighthill Farm, Mark Up (Ishiguru x Wauwinet), took out the HK Class 3 Oi Man Handicap (1650m) later in the day at Happy Valley.
Owned by Fidelity Racing Syndicate, this was only the second start of the season for the Caspar Fownes trained gelding, with his previous effort resulting in a second place. The win confirmed that he has plenty of potential and Trainers' Premiership leader Fownes will be keen to hold that winning form throughout the season.
The same evening in Singapore emerging stayer Zac Missile (Yamanin Vital x Ranch) claimed the Mandai Classic S. (2200m), taking him a step closer to gaining a start in the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup which is run over the same trip.
Trained by Michael Freedman, Zac Missile was a $20,000 purchase by Mr DR Wiles from Inglewood Stud at the 2008 Select Yearling Sale and, having won six of his 13 starts for owner Zac Stable, the four-year-old now has $281,529 in stakes earnings to his name.
Of the 11 race card at Kranji a further six races were won by Karaka graduates on Sunday in a strong showing of Kiwi talent.
Horse Breeding Race Breeder NZB Sale Details
Towkay Flyer Towkay - Classic Realm HK Class 4, 1000m J A Worley V. Little Avondale Stud B. Sanders Racing Stables S. 06 Premier P. $46,000
Nicku Colombia - Florence Maria HK Class 5, 1650m H J & Mrs S A L Trumper V. Cheveley Stud S. 07 Festival P. Psd $6,000 Res $10,000
Ho Wongchoy Cullen - Au Revoir HK Class 4, 1800m Profile Bloodstock Ltd V. Westbury Stud B. John Foote Bloodstock Pty Ltd S. 07 Carnival P. $32,000
All The Winners Black Minnaloushe - The Mighty Lions HK Class 4, 1200m Windsor Park Stud Ltd V. Windsor Park Stud B. Mr D O'Donnell S. 07 Premier P. $190,000
Ambitious Dragon Pins - Golden Gamble HK Class 4, 1650m E P Lowry V. Belvedere Farm S. 08 Select P. Psd $47,500 Res $50,000
Captain Scarlet Captain Rio - Miss Monk Singapore Maiden (2&3YO), 1100m Westbury Stud Ltd V. Westbury Stud B. Mr H Forbes S. 09 Select P. $40,000
Windspout Postponed - Ocarina Singapore Class 4, 1600m Karaka Group Ltd V. Twin Pines B. Mr CP Mcnab S. 08 Carnival P. $35,000
Gut Feel Rusty Spur - Vain Ana Singapore Novice, 1200m J L Donaldson V. Totara Park Stud B. Mr Kah Wui Lim S. 08 Festival P. $32,000
Maraeti Align - Ecstatically Singapore Class 4, 2400m Highview Stud Ltd V. Highview Stud B. P/I S. 07 Carnival P. Psd $7,000 Res $10,000
Daring Youth Bertolini - Ebony Pearl Singapore Class 5, 1100m W E Jeffries & L F Sheeran V. Hallmark Stud B. Robert Roulston Bloodstock S. 07 Ready to Run P. $30,000
Silveron Wings Black Minnaloushe - Cruz Control Singapore Class 4, 1400m Fusion Thoroughbreds Ltd V. Little Avondale Stud B. Mr DR Wiles S. 09 Select P. $16,000