O’Reilly Cyrus will wear blinkers in her attempt to give Brisbane trainer Liam Birchley a third win in New Zealand’s richest two-year-old race.
The filly was an impressive debut winner at Doomben on December 4 but her trainer thought she hit a flat spot in the straight and she trialled in blinkers on Tuesday at the Gold Coast.
She heads to Auckland on Monday to prepare for the $1 million Karaka Million at Ellerslie on January 24.
Birchley, who won the race in 2010 with Sister Havana and last year with Hardline, also ran second with Sarge In Charge in 2009.
“I think she is potentially better than Sister Havana and Sarge In Charge and the equal of Hardline,” Birchley said.
“I am not sure how strong the New Zealand two-year-olds are this season. But I suppose we will find out.
“The blinkers should get her mind right on the job.
“She is booked to fly out on Monday night and I will follow later in the week. She has pleased me of late and hopefully she will travel well.”
Damian Browne, who won last year’s Million in Hardline, returns to his homeland to partner O’Reilly Cyrus while Sydney jockey Blake Shinn will be aboard Caorunn for Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young.
Michelle Payne will also head to New Zealand at the weekend to ride Ringo in the Group One Thorndon Mile at Trentham on Saturday.
She will also ride at Ellerslie the following day and will be a special guest of New Zealand Bloodstock at the Karaka yearling sale at which a brother to her Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance will be sold.