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Efficient quinella adds to sunny (NZ) spring

Wild weather has made spring 2006 less than pleasant in New Zealand, but across the Tasman the sun has been shining on Kiwi-bred horses.

EFFICIENT (NZ) becomes the 104th stakeswinner for champion sire Zabeel in Saturday's MVRC Moonee Valley Vase G2
PHOTO: Gary Wild/NZ Thoroughbred Marketing
Three-year-olds Efficient (Zabeel-Refused the Dance by Defensive Play) and The One (O'Reilly-The Grin by Grosvenor) were clearly superior to the rest of the field in Saturday's MVRC Moonee Valley Vase 2040m G2. They have only a week to recover, and the 2500-metre Victoria Derby is a notably difficult test for any horse, but both have good chances of being the first Kiwi-bred winner of the race since Amalfi in 2001. (New Zealand-bred horses won nine of the previous 20 Victoria Derbys, 1981-2000).

Along with Geelong Cup and Classic winners Mandela (Ebony Grosve-Wairongoa Belle by Sea Anchor) and Gorky Park (Montjeu-Steluta by Defensive Play), they have boosted the tally of New Zealand-bred stakeswinners in Australia this season to fifteen.

Nine years after his death, Sir Tristram remains a dominant figure in (NZ) stakes-winning pedigrees, including three of these four horses, plus G2 Lad of the Manor (Zabeel), G3 Coalesce (Zabeel), G3 Estelle Collection (by Stravinsky from a Zabeel mare) and his leading earner SW Activation (Zabeel).

Unsurprisingly, Cambridge Stud's Zabeel, currently seventh on the Australian general sires' table, leads our list of sires by number of Kiwi-bred stakeswinners with a total of four, ahead of Windsor Park's former shuttle Montjeu, finally making an impact with G2 Growl and SW Gorky Park, and Waikato Stud's resurgent O'Reilly (G3 Splashing Out & SW The One).

Also standing at Waikato Stud, Pins has had only one stakeswinner in Australia so far this season, but El Segundo's Group 1 & 2 victories, and his magnificent second in the Cox Plate G1 have earned $A847,000 - enough to put Pins in ninth place on the Australian general sires' list.

Cambridge Stud shuttle Stravinsky is the third leading New Zealand-based sire in Australia, in 17th position largely thanks to the Australian-bred G2 Biscayne Bay.

Waikato Stud's former shuttler Defensive Play continues to build his good record as a broodmare sire, with G2 Efficient, SW Gorky Park and Bart Cummings'Australian-bred Victoria Derby hopeful, SW Sirmione. Defensive Play's daughters have now left six stakeswinners from approximately 170 southern hemisphere foals, including G1 Taatletail.

Leading sire Lord Ballina, who died at Ardsley Stud in 2004, appears as the sire of SW Exinite and damsire of G1 Sphenophyta, who will start in the VRC L.K.S. MacKinnon S. G1 this Saturday - just one of the five Group One races at Flemington on Derby Day, without doubt the best raceday of the Australasian racing year.


- Susan Archer