Aussie grad­u­ates chas­ing Mil­lions at Eller­slie

The Sportsman Weekend - - Karaka 2019 - SHAYNE O’CASS

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.

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