Scaredee Cat opens (NZ) account for the season

Arrabeea (Zabeel-Trotanoy) won a Listed Race at Randwick on 23 August.

Daniel's The Man (Touching Wood-Top Role) has won the Wyong Gold Cup Prelude, and the Wyong Gold Cup, both Listed Races, in the past month.

And eight-year-old gelding Space Age (Sky Chase-Regal Jo) took out the Ausdrill-Boulder Cup LR at Kalgoorlie on Saturday.

These are all fine efforts, worthy of acknowledgement. But when the tradition of New Zealand-breds racing in Australia includes names like Might And Power, Octagonal, Bonecrusher, Rough Habit, The Phantom, Veandercross, Let's Elope, Beau Zam, Surround and Sunline, it takes a little more noise to announce our annual raid on Australia's major racing prizes.

Truth be told, last season's raid wasn't one of our best. Kiwi-breds won fewer than 12% of Australia's black type races, among them only seven Group One races. All sorts of reasons for it but, trust me, one of them isn't that New Zealand breeders have suddenly lost the knack of producing top-class performers.

Fittingly, given our great record in the Melbourne Cup, Flemington was the scene of New Zealand's first Group victories in Australia for the new season. I use the plural "victories" with some licence because Pentastic, impressive winner of the Craiglee Stakes G2, was actually born in Australia, but his sire Pentire is now more or less resident at Rich Hill Stud, Matamata, after several seasons shuttling between Japan & New Zealand. Pentastic's owner-breeder Ray Orloff of Oamaru Stud saw Pentire win the 1996 King George & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and was so impressed that he booked the Bellotto mare Miss Minden to him as soon as Rich Hill announced Pentire for the 1997 season.

Rich Hill and Mr Orloff, who also races Brisbane Cup G1 winner Piachay, are entitled to be excited about Pentastic's prospects for the spring, especially when they look at subsequent performances of previous Craiglee winners. For example, Northerly won last year's Craiglee before adding the Caulfield Cup and a second Cox Plate to his record. Sky Heights and Laebeel quinella-ed the 1999 race before filling the same positions in the Caulfield Cup. Other placegetters who have gone on to even better things during Melbourne's spring include Mahogany (2nd 1995 Cox Plate), Subzero (1st 1992 Melbourne Cup) and Almaarad (1st 1989 Cox Plate).

Unlike Pentastic, the Ascot Vale G2 winner Scaredee Cat was bred in New Zealand, by Waikato Stud's Garry Chittick. But, emphasising the point that thoroughbred horse origins are no longer simple, Scaredee Cat is by Tale Of The Cat who stood one season in New Zealand, didn't leave the United States for the next three years and stands this season at Coolmore Australia.

We like to be accurate so we'll claim just the one Australian Group win from Saturday.

With a gentle warning: the (NZ) season has only just begun...!

- Susan Archer


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