Initial efforts to buy English stayer Buxted were foiled by his high price tag but a subsequent form lapse proved a blessing in disguise for his new owners.
The European import will make his Australian debut for trainer Sam Pritchard-Gordon in Saturday’s Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association Trophy (2040m) at Moonee Valley, 15 months after he last raced in a Group Two in England.
Buxted won his first three UK starts, culminating in a Listed victory, catching the eye of the Badgers Bloodstock team which includes Pritchard-Gordon’s father, renowned bloodstock agent Grant, and Sam’s brother Tom.
But it wasn’t until Buxted’s form tapered off that they were able to secure him for 60,000 guineas on behalf of Australian clients.
“They tried to buy him the year before but there were a lot of noughts on the end,” Sam Pritchard-Gordon said.
“He had a disappointing season in 2011 and they were able to get him at the right price.”
The seven-year-old has raced just nine times, including a fifth in the 2011 Yorkshire Cup in which triple Australian Group One winner Manighar finished third.
Pritchard-Gordon said Buxted had been a challenge to get right since his arrival earlier this year.
“He’s had a multitude of issues,” he said.
“He came out of quarantine in February and I’ve just been pottering around with him since then to get him right and sound.”
Buxted has never raced over less than 2400 metres, prompting Pritchard-Gordon to take the unconventional step of sending him around over 2040 metres first-up.
He says the gelding has shown ability at home but his performance on Saturday will be a truer guide as to where he fits in.
“The query with him is whether he can adapt to Australian racing and you don’t know that until you put them under pressure,” Pritchard-Gordon said.
Pritchard-Gordon is in just his second season of training after spending several years as racing manager for Lee Freedman and, before that, working for leading industry figures Gai Waterhouse and John Messara.
He made a great start with nine winners from 30 runners in season 2011-12 and currently has 14 horses in work.
Craig Williams will partner Buxted on Saturday before flying to Germany to ride favourite Salomina in the German Oaks in Dusseldorf on Monday (AEST).