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Kiwi-breds show their class in Melbourne

Day one of the Victoria Racing Club's spring meeting in Melbourne, "Derby Day", is the pinnacle of racing and this year So You Think owned it with an unbelievable performance in the group one L K S Mackinnon Stakes.

Commentators are running out of adjectives to describe this horse and comparisons are now even being made to the mighty Phar Lap! However, he wasn't the only star with an (NZ) suffix to shine at Flemington last Saturday - he was joined by three other Kiwi-breds, Lion Tamer, Brazilian Pulse and Maluckyday.

With every race on the card a group race, "Derby Day" provides the best day's racing in the Southern Hemisphere so what better day for New Zealand bred-thoroughbreds to step up and take the honours.

On a day of outstanding racing New Zealand bred horses won the L K S Mackinnon Stakes (Gr 1), the AAMI Victorian Derby (Gr1), the Lexus Stakes (Gr 2) and the Wakeful Stakes (Gr2). Two group one races and two group two consisting of two three-year-old classics, a weight-for-age event, and a handicap.

"How our horses perform in Australia in the spring reflects directly on our yearling sales in January," according to a very delighted Michael Martin, CEO of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Association.

"On racing's biggest day in the Southern Hemisphere the performances of our New Zealand-bred horses were exceptional. We didn't just win four races, but we nailed a first four and two quinellas as well. Breeders can be very proud of these outstanding results."

In winning the L K S MacKinnon Stakes, So You Think (High Chaparral- Triassic by Tights) beat the Caulfield Cup winner Descarado (High Chaparral-Karamea Lady by Lord Ballina), Ginga Dude (Istidaad-Clatitude by Clay Hero) and Shoot Out (High Chaparral – Pentamerous by Pentire), and a strong field of the best weight-for-age horses in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Derby was one of the biggest and strongest seen at Flemington in the last few years and the Phil Bayly bred, and owned Lion Tamer (Storming Home- Lioness by Generous), trained at Cambridge by Murray and Bjorn Baker tamed them all with an emphatic six and a half length victory. Chasing him home was Praecido, a One Cool Cat gelding out of the Montjeu mare Felicitious, and Retrieve, an imported Rahy colt owned by Darley, nosed out Digital Fortress (Savabeel-Danex by Danasinga) for third.

In the three-year-old fillies event the group two Wakeful Stakes, the honours went to the lightly raced Brazilian Pulse (ex Sharazad by Tenby). The Captain Rio filly was having only her fifth start when she recorded an impressive win over fellow New Zealand-bred filly Placement (Savabeel-Lucida by O'Reilly).

Brazilian Pulse has now won three races and at her previous start was group one placed in the Caulfield 1000 Guineas.

Another lightly raced youngster, Maluckyday (Zabeel-Natalie Wood by Yachtie) – proved that it was just that, his lucky day, when he blitzed a field of quality handicappers in the group two Lexus Stakes and gained automatic entry into the 150th $6million Melbourne Cup.

The four-year-old Zabeel gelding trained by the powerful Hawke stable commenced his racing career last autumn and from only eight starts has notched up five wins and three placings One of those placings was a third in the group two Tulloch Stakes for three-year-olds at Rosehill behind Count Encosta and Descarado. He races in the Melbourne Cup with the feather weight of 52 kgs.

With still three more days racing at Flemington, this spring carnival is turning out to be a bumper for the New Zealand breds. To date this season we have had 21 individual black type winners of 33 races. Bring it on!



- Michelle Saba