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Spring nominations: Australian trained imports make their mark

August 2, 2011

It has been building for a while, but what is noticeable about this year’s nominations for the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate is how much influence the imports have had on our middle distance and staying ranks.

Below are the list of Australian-trained imports nominated either for the Cox Plate or Caulfield Cup:

BART CUMMINGS – Illo

CHRIS WALLER – Foreteller, Hawk Island, Illustrious Blue, Marden, My Kingdom of Fife, Stand to Gain

DAVID HAYES – Budai, Laristan, Rebel Soldier, Tactic

LEE FREEDMAN – Above Average, Fanjura

MICHAEL KENT – Unusual Suspect

MICHAEL MORONEY – Diyaraka, Don Carlos, Glass Harmonium, Surface Tension

PETER MOODY – Becqu Adoree

ROBERT HICKMOTT – Akzar, Alandi, Amber Grey, At First Sight, Bright Horizon, Green Moon, I’m Imposing, London Stripe, Midas Touch, Mourayan, September Morn

Some are already familiar to Australian punters, having been competitive at Group level here.

With the exception of Marden, who has had one trial in Australia, all of Chris Waller’s imports have been successful here to some extent.

There are two Group 1 winners in that group – My Kingdom of Fife (Queen Elizabeth Stakes) and Stand To Gain (Sydney Cup) – as well as Group 1 placegetter Hawk Island and the emerging Foreteller.

Last year’s Melbourne Cup 10th Illustrious Blue also joins Waller for another tilt at the race that stops the nation.

Lee Freedman’s pair, Above Average and Fanjura, have both been competitive at Group level for a couple of seasons, while Peter Moody’s Becqu Adoree has been inconsistent since arriving here last year.

Mike Moroney’s Glass Harmonium had a quick but effective winter campaign in Queensland, while three of the four David Hayes imports – Laristan, Rebel Soldier and Tactic – have stepped out.

Owner Lloyd Williams has had half of his nominations step out – Akzar, Alandi, I’m Imposing, Mourayan and September Morn have all raced here.

Which brings us to those we are yet to see.

Here is a little about each horse:

Illo – known as a front runner in his native Germany, he has had 10 starts, winning three times and placing on a further four occasions. Finished three and a quarter lengths behind Budai in a Group 3 at Baden Baden last August.

Marden – only had two starts for a win in a seven furlong (1400m) maiden at Leicester. Has plenty of scope. Ran last in his trial at Warwick Farm last week.

Budai – German horse who has won four times and ran second twice from eight starts. Best run was at Deauville last year when he finished a length second to 2009 Hong Kong Cup winner Vision D’Etat. Has shown best form on very soft ground.

Unusual Suspect – Group 1 winning American horse sent to Australia for “more opportunities” – not sure if he’ll get them, but it’s interesting. For more, click on this link.

Diyaraka – French mare formerly owned by the Aga Khan. Has won twice and placed three times from seven starts. Has shown nice staying potential.

Don Carlos – probably the most renowned of Paul Moroney’s purchases, even more so than Glass Harmonium. A Ballydoyle castoff, he has shown inconsistent form. However, there is no doubt that most believe the potential is there. It is a matter of whether Mike Moroney can unmask it.

Surface Tension – has had three runs with his best effort a fourth at Newmarket. Hasn’t shown much in the UK, but could be suited to Australian conditions. On his form to date, it is probably a stretch to see him competing in these races.

Amber Grey – has had three starts for a ten furlong (2000m) win at Leopardstown. Finished fourth to Don Carlos as a two year old.

At First Sight – one of the most highly regarded imports in recent years, At First Sight finished second in last year’s Epsom Derby behind Workforce at 100/1. A bold frontrunner, he was used primarily as a pacemaker by Ballydoyle. The question will be, can he settle in his races in Australia?

Bright Horizon – a winner of the Irish Cesarewitch, Bright Horizon comes to Australia with more exposed form than most Lloyd Williams imports. However, while he is packed with stamina, there is a big query over whether he has the speed to be competitive here.

London Stripe – has only had five starts, including a second at Royal Ascot last year to emerging stayer Dandino. Fellow Caulfield Cup entries Tactician and Bright Horizon, as well as Chris Waller import Contract Caterer, were well behind him that day.

Midas Touch – as a three year old, he seemed to always be the bridesmaid. This included seconds in the Irish Derby (behind Cape Blanco), the English St Leger (behind Arctic Cosmos) and the Great Voltigeur Stakes (behind Rewilding). He also finished fifth in the Epsom Derby and seventeenth in the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe. If he can find his best, he’d be a chance to do really well out here.

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