Humphrey and Fiona O’Leary have already had a taste of the Melbourne Cup and are looking for more with Ladies First.
The Allan Sharrock-trained mare won Saturday’s Group One Auckland Cup (3200m) after a torrid run to foster dreams of Flemington in November.
The O’Learys are part-owners of the now Sydney-based Who Shot Thebarman, winner of the 2014 Auckland Cup and third in the Melbourne Cup won by Protectionist later that year.
Ladies First prevailed at Ellerslie by a nose over Five To Midnight.
“She was posted three wide around one bend and then two bends and I said she can’t win,” Sharrock told NZ Racing Desk.
“I’m rapt, but I did think she had got beaten on the line. I’m a bit shocked really. I thought she had run second.
“They all thought she was a wet-tracker, but her last three wins have been on firm tracks.
Ladies First has won six from seven on heavy tracks but is also three from three on top of the ground.