Serious firepower among the Kiwi's
By Michael Guerin
After the initial sighs of Australian relief comes the reality.
And that reality is even without a full regiment of the All Stars army to converge on the Victorian carnival which rolls into gear over the next week, we still have some serious firepower aimed at the August riches which start at Maryborough on Sunday.
There would have been plenty of connections of leading Australian age group horses thrilled to here that originally the All Stars weren’t targeting the Breeders Crown with anything like the numbers of the past, although the two they are bringing in Princess Tiffany and Jesse Duke are favoured in their divisions.
But the Kiwi team has grown to eight and remarkably all of them are trained by people who have had success in Australia before.
Joining the Purdon-Rasmussen horses will be fellow Kiwi trainers Ray Green (won BC juvenile with King Of Swing two years ago); John and Josh Dickie (numerous BC, Vic Derby wins and a Great Southern Star), Zac Butcher (who has won Victorian group ones and now make his training debut there) and Phil Williamson, who has an excellent strike rate when he ventures to Victoria.
Even Jeremy Young, who makes his Australian debut as the trainer of Breeders Crown three-year-old filly contender Best Western, is widely travelled and successful in Australia when stable travelling foreman for Purdon back in the Auckland Reactor days.
So with all eight of the Kiwis set to race in Victoria soon, here is a look at how they stack up.—-
Ultimate Stride (Redwood): Former sales topping trotter who overcame 30m handicap to win at Maryborough last Thursday, so good to go from a stand for the Redwood.
“He is a good horse and better now than when he ran at the Jewels,” says trainer Williamson.
“He can definitely win any race he is in and the stand doesn’t bother me.”
Anthony Butt will retain the drive on the leggy son of Love You, who is a class horse and has an experience edge at the highest level on the locals.
Liberty Stride (Vic Derby): It was impossible not to be impressed by her quite stunning recovery to win at Shepparton last Tuesday and Williamson says she is the real deal.
“She would have raced in the best races over home but we were behind the 8-ball with her prep but she has real class.
“She can give the boys plenty to think about in the Derby and the crucial factor will be whether she gets it right and is trotting after 400m. If she is, she can win.”
Butt will also takes the reins on her.
Kratos (Vic Derby): Won his lead-up race at Alexandra Park last Friday against older horses with a 1:59.4 mile coming off second line, his fourth win this season, all against older horses.
Second in NZ Sales Series and fourth in the Jewels he is rated a good stayer and late season improver by co-trainer John Dickie.
“He is getting better all the time and he will love the three races in as many weeks heading into the Breeders Crown.” Not as good as some of the Dickie superstars of the past, Kratos will still be an each way chance in the Derby and the Crown, with Josh Dickie to drive.
Shepparton, August 7:
Perfect Stride: Trained by Ray Green and owned by the Rosatis, Chicago Bull’s little brother is a real speedster.
Good enough to compete in the elite early season company in NZ he was put aside with the Breeders Crown in mind and jogged a 1:56.1 mile beating older horses at Alex Park last Friday.
That was his second win on end and he is slick and getting tougher with time. Whether he is up to the Emma Stewart horses is a big ask but looks certain to make the final and Zac Butcher will drive in the heat at least.
Zeuss Bromac: A dramatic late season improver for Butcher, this is the first horse he has trained.
Third in the Jewels at only his second start he beat Perfect Stride last time they met but then missed a race two weeks ago because of a bad blood report.
Looks stronger than Perfect Stride but maybe not with as much raw speed.
“I don’t think missing that race will hurt him too much and he is a horse on the up,” said Butcher.
“So I think he will make the final and hopefully he will keep improving on the way there. He is pretty untapped.”
Kilmore, August 8
Our Princess Tiffany: Needs no introduction, she is sheer class. Already the winner of three Oaks races it will take something very special to beat her in the series if she brings her best form.
Best Western: Stunned Belle Of Montana to win the Northern Oaks at Alexandra Park in March to give trainer Jeremy Young, known as Zinny, his first group one win.
Not as good as Princess Tiffany but she is tough and follows a hot speed so Australian racing should suit her.
“Maybe she can’t beat Princess Tiffany but she definitely can’t beat her if we don’t go so she will be on the plane with the others on Wednesday,” said Young.
A strong second in a 1:55.1 mile at Alexandra Park last Friday, Best Western is yet another Breeders Crown drive for Anthony Butt.
Ballarat, August 9:
Jesse Duke: Has a good horse’s record and would be a lot better but for racing some
really classy stablemates in Ultimate Sniper and Self Assured.
Still won a Jewels and is a good stayer but meets a solid crop of horses. Won’t just turn up and win as so many Purdon-Rasmussen horses have in the past but his $3 futures quote with the TAB could be a lot shorter because you know he will be in the final and once there the All Stars horses are there they are usually well backed.
Probably no better than 3-4 others in the series.