Aussie graduates chasing Millions at Ellerslie
LONG Leaf, the equal third top priced lot at Karaka in 2017, will carry the hopes and much of the cash of supporters this coming Australia Day when he takes part in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic at Ellerslie. The Fastnet Rock colt was sold for $750,000 at the Premier Yearling Sale and races in the Coolmore colours but has New Zealand Bloodstock owner Sir Peter Vela in the ownership. Long Leaf, whose three wins include Blue Diamond Preview at two, will be ridden in the Ellerslie feature by James McDonald. “He ran well in the Sandown Guineas and I thought he ran really well at Flemington last start,” co-trainer Tom Dabernig said. “We had him wound up but it was a bit of time between runs and going to the mile in New Zealand we thought we would use the race as a good hit-out. “He’s nice sensible colt so hopefully he travels well.’’ Meanwhile, Australia’s hopes of securing the Karaka Millions 2YO Classic once again rest with Queensland trainer Liam Birchley. Birchley has saddled-up five runners in Karaka Millions winning with Sister Havana in 2010 and Hardline in 2015. His first Karaka million runner, Sarge In Charge, was runnerup in 2009. Birchley’s 2019 contender Neptune’s Spear won impressively at Doomben on debut before a shock defeat at $1.50 in a midweeker on January 9, albeit off seven weeks let-up. The son of Super Easy was sold for $140,000 in Book 1 last year. “The Kiwis are not as tuned on for two-year-old racing, they are more about giving them a little bit of time, so it is definitely softer-type race than the Golden Slipper and some of our other big twoyear-old races,’’ Birchley said. “I was on my last legs when I bought him, I’ve got to say. didn’t expect to have spend that much but I am glad I did,’’ he said this week.
The highly talented Long Leaf will be hard to beat in the Karaka Millions 3YO event.