Caduceus lives up to name, so far
permanent place in harness racing history as an inaugural New Zealand Trotting Hall of Fame inductee, alongside fellow champions Cardigan Bay, Johnny Globe and Highland Fling.
The modern-day thoroughbred has a long way to go to equal the deeds of his namesake, but he leaves nothing to question with the start he’s made as the winner of his only two starts. After a couple of educational trials, the 2-year-old gelding was sent to Waverley late last month for his first start and surprised just about everyone with a convincing win.
‘‘Waverley was a bit of an afterthought,’’ Paul Shailer said.
‘‘He had been coming along well enough and we decided to send him down as a travelling mate for our maiden runner, Vibrant Moss.
‘‘She had the form and started the $1.50 favourite but could run only third and the 2-year-old came out and won really well. We thought about seeing how he pulled up and when he looked as if he was coping we decided to see if he would go to another level.’’
That he certainly did on the weekend, getting home hard from the rear in New Zealand’s only 1600m 2-year-old race to down the favourite Asprey for Shailer stable rider – and Paul’s partner – Kelly Myers.
‘‘He’ll go to the paddock now and we’ll bring him back with the spring 3-year-old races in mind,’’ Paul said.
‘‘He’s a horse that’s hard to get a line on, so what his potential is we’re still not sure.
‘‘He’s got plenty of scope about him, though, and he’s relaxed to the point of being laid-back. He’s a very good doer, nothing fazes him, and there’s more than one dimension to him the way he raced on the speed in his first start and then came from last on Saturday.’’
Caduceus, by former Cambridge Stud stallion Lucky Unicorn, is owned by a group of Australians who the Shailers have never even met.
‘‘They’re clients of Bradbury Park and I have Casey Dando to thank for sending them our way,’’ Paul said.
Shailer Racing is based in one of the Matamata Racing Club barns, from where 12 winners have been prepared this season to go with 21 last season.
‘‘We had some handy horses like Trepidation and Forefront putting together a few wins but this season it’s been more a matter of developing a bunch of mainly young horses.’’
Among those is Dream Run, a juvenile filly who won on debut on her home track earlier this month and, like Caduceus, will be aimed at important spring races.
Looking to the future, the Shailers also went shopping at the Karaka yearling sales in January and came home with two likely sorts, a filly by hot young sire Sebring and a colt by another likely stallion across the Tasman in Stryker.
‘‘They’re both very good types and we’re in the process of syndicating them, so if anyone out there is looking to get into a young horse, we’d be happy to hear from them,’’ Paul said.
The big-race action at the Sydney autumn carnival shone further light on the local breeding scene, with victory in the two Randwick features going to locallyproduced horses Sacred Falls and Sebring.
O’Reilly 4-year-old Sacred Falls came up roses for the second year running as he stormed home from well back to claim the thick end of the A$3 million purse that went with the Doncaster Mile.
On top of his success in the same race last year and the New Zealand 2000 Guineas as a spring 3-year-old, Sacred Falls will be another quality addition to the Waikato Stud stallion roster when, as expected, he takes up duties there this spring.
‘‘We’ve got to finalise a few things, but that’s the most likely scenario,’’ Garry Chittick said.
Chittick was on track for Saturday’s big win and hopes to be back there this weekend when Sacred falls takes on another by O’Reilly, star race mare Silent Achiever, in the A$4m Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Criterion continued the fantastic recent run by horses bred at Blandford Lodge when he added the A$2m Australian Derby to his win a fortnight earlier in the Rosehill Guineas.
A son of the aforementioned Sebring, Criterion is owned by Blandford Lodge co-owner Sir Owen Glenn.
The Blandford Lodge brand will be carried this weekend by Savabeel filly Lucia Valentina, the favourite for the A$1m Australian Oaks following her win in last week’s Vinery Stud Stakes.
Further local interest at Randwick will centre on Viadana as she bids to extend her New Zealand form in the A$1m Queen of the Turf Stakes, and on star filly Bounding in the A$500,000 Royal Sovereign Stakes.
By the time you read this page, New Zealand Derby winner Puccini will be back in his paddock at the McKay stable after a Sydney campaign dogged by wet tracks and other challenges.
In his first start in the Rosehill Guineas he faded after being impatiently ridden, while last Saturday he battled bravely for fifth in the Australian Derby.
That effort restored some of the aura that Puccini took with him to Sydney after dominating local ranks. He has now gone for a welldeserved spell..
Milestone: Champagne Stakes winner Caduceus and co-trainer Kris Shailer.