The success of Japanese-bred Fierce Impact in Australia led to his younger brother being sent down-under in search of spring riches.
Fierce Impact was a three-time Group 1 winner in Australia before his retirement to stud with one of those victories coming in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington last year.
Keiai Nautique, a year younger than Fierce Impact and also prepared by Matthew Smith, runs for the second time in Australia in the Makybe Diva Stakes after a fast-finishing fourth to Mo’Unga in the Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m) at Randwick last month.
Smith said Keiai Nautique was like Fierce Impact physically, maybe a touch bigger, and a pleasure to have around the stable.
Hopeful, rather than confident of success on Saturday, Smith believes the outing will set the horse up nicely for his next outing at 2000m.
“I didn’t expect him to run the way he did first-up,” Smith said.
“I thought he’d run well because he had worked well, but I thought he’d be a few lengths further back.
“If he can run well and be hitting the line, that will set him up nicely for a 2000-metre race.”
Since the Winx Stakes, Smith took Keiai Nautique to Randwick for a barrier trial, applying blinkers.
Smith wanted to see if they would get the seven-year-old to travel a little closer in the run, but felt they made no difference, and the headgear will not be worn on Saturday.
With COVID restrictions in place, Keiai Nautique will return to Smith’s Warwick Farm stable after Saturday’s race to prepare for either the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington or the Group 2 Hill Stakes at Randwick.
Both races, on October 2, are run over 2000m and will form a part of the lead-up to the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley three weeks later.
“There’s lots of options for him around that 2000 metres if he doesn’t get to the Cox Plate,” Smith said.
“There’s a couple of races here in Sydney that they’ve put a $1 million bonus on.”