The more things change, the more they stay the same. Indeed, there is ample evidence of the fact on the two feature Saturday programs in Sydney and Melbourne this weekend in the form of the diehard Kiwi stayer.
More recently treated as a second-class citizen by Australian stables with an insatiable appetite for tried northern hemisphere gallopers groomed for Cup combat on the other side of the world, the good old New Zealand-bred and -raced racehorse looked to have had its day in an environment that it has served so well since well before even Phar Lap’s era.
Yet it is out in force again on the big-time programs of Royal Randwick and Flemington this Saturday, and to such an extent that suggestion of a resurgence is hard to dismiss.
In races such as the $150,000, Group 3, ATC Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick and the $120,000, Listed, VRC Japan Racing Association Trophy (2500m), the Kiwis have a very strong hand.
Who Shot Thebarman (NZ), Chocante (NZ), Antonnio Giuseppe (NZ), Dee I Cee (NZ) and Megablast (NZ) are all set to take their chance in the former, comprising almost half of a 12-horse strong field.
Chocante (NZ) and Antonnio Giuseppe (NZ) have much in common, both being 5-year-old sons of Melbourne Cup winner Shocking and each having been last seen turning in very tidy efforts behind Winx at weight-for-age.
A Brisbane Cup winner in the first instance and the 2017 The Metropolitan favourite in the second, Chocante (NZ) and Antonnio Giuseppe (NZ) are already well on course to register a feature victory in Sydney this spring and dominate the market for Saturday’s Kingston Town at $3.60 and $3.30 respectively.
Kiwi involvement is acutely less prevalent in the Japan Racing Association Trophy at Flemington in which Killarney Kid (NZ), Cismontane (NZ), Yogi (NZ) and Sly Romance (NZ) are set to fly the New Zealand flag in a wide-open affair.
Of the quartet, Yogi (NZ) is the most fancied at odds of around $9.00, the former South Island-based runner now an established member of the Darren Weir stable having won five of his 10 starts this side of the Tasman.
Originally hailing from Mosgiel in the very finest traditions of New Zealand staying thoroughbred breeding, Yogi wants for nothing in terms of his original grounding in life and should make his presence felt in Saturday’s assignment and beyond.
The top-shelf brace of the $500,000, Group 1, ATC Colgate Optic White Stakes (1600m) and $750,000, Group 1, VRC PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) also see horses sporting an (NZ) suffice lining-up in strength, though all and sundry will have their work cut out to conquer Winx in the Sydney highlight of the day.
Ecuador (NZ) and Mackintosh (NZ) represent the NZ-bred contingent of the field but are fundamentally running for second and third prize at best, such is the indomitable nature of the phenomenal racemare.
The Makybe Diva Stakes is an entirely different matter as Tavago (NZ) and Jon Snow (NZ) are both very much in the reckoning to fight out the finish.
Winners of the past two Australian Derbies at Royal Randwick, Tavago (NZ) and Jon Snow (NZ) are both 2400 metres performers of the very highest order.
Neither is to be under-estimated at the 1600m trip of Makybe Diva Stakes however, a race previously won by Sky Heights, Mahogany, Prolific and other AJC Derby winners to name but a few.
Ecuador (NZ), picture Sportpix.com.au