Hard Task to Gauge Kiwi Chances

Date: 3 Mar 2023

Hard Task to Gauge Kiwi Chances


NZ Herald's Michael Guerin reports:


A horse not racing this weekend could be the best guide to New Zealand's chances of Group 1 success at Australia's two greatest tracks tomorrow.

The red-hot sprinting mare Imperatriz has been backed off the board to win the A$600,000 Canterbury Stakes at Randwick while flying filly Legarto is the x-factor in the A$1 million Australian Guineas at Flemington, in which New Zealand has a solid second-stringer in Mr Maestro.

Mr Maestro has detailed Australian form but punters face a daunting puzzle trying to line up the New Zealand performances of Imperatriz and Legarto against the Australians.

The baseline form reference could be Levante.

The winner of two Group 1s in New Zealand this summer, Levante isn't racing this weekend, instead resting before she heads to Sydney for the George Ryder Stakes on March 18.

But she has been to Australia twice before and both times impressed with fourths in serious Group 1 sprints down the Flemington straight, so she is an Australian-level elite sprinter and Imperatriz has been too sharp for her over 1200m and 1400m this summer.

Add that the Canterbury Stakes is not a strong Group 1, with many of the better-performed horses using it as a launching pad for their autumn campaigns, and Imperatriz looks to have found the right Group 1.

Champion expat jockey James McDonald thinks so and says while she is short in the market at $1.90, she is the one to beat.

“I know a lot of these horses well and some of them are very good but they are either fresh-up or coming back from a setback,” McDonald told the Herald.

“Imperatriz has been really good back home this summer and if she brings that form to this race, with the 1300m on a good track perfect for her, then she is the one to beat.

“Still, I have been on some New Zealand-trained horses in the last couple of years who have arrived over here with great form and not raced to that level.

“But I don't think that will happen with her.”

Triple threat

The Kiwis chasing Group 1 glory in Australia tomorrow


Race: A$600,000 Canterbury Stakes at Randwick, 6pm.

Pros: James McDonald as jockey, meets mixed quality field, in career-best form.

Negatives: No Australian experience, $1.90 price hard to take.


Race: A$1 million Australian Guineas at Flemington, 6.20pm.

Pros: Fast, Micheal Dee rides, big track suits, working well.

Cons: First time travelling, inexperienced, meets some quality colts.



Race: A$1 million Australian Guineas at Flemington, 6.20pm.

Pros: Proven in Australia, second last week, stable strike rate in Victoria.

Cons: Wide draw, dropping back from 1800m.


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