The spoils from New Zealand’s richest race are on their way to Queensland trainer Liam Birchley again after Hardline burst through late to win the Karaka Million.
Hardline was well back in the race after being tardy at the start but jockey Damian Browne kept him close to the rail rather than pulling wide.
Browne elected to follow the leader Selfie and got a split 150m out, sprinting hard to deny his rival by half a length in the $1 million race for Karaka sales graduates.
It was Birchley’s second victory in the race following that of Sister Havana in 2010. He also produced Sarge In Charge to run second in 2009.
“It’s probably my best moment in racing,” Birchley said.
“Forty owners came over for the race, a very close friend of mine prepared the horse at sale, and it means a lot.”
Hardline was racing in blinkers for the first time and Browne, who described him as “a thinking colt”, said it was better to stay on the inside of the track between runners.
“There was a lot of pushing and shoving going on early and I just wanted to stay out of it,” Browne said.
“I knew he’d hit the line strongly if I could just put him in a position to do so and I got a good run through.”
Browne, a former New Zealander now living in Queensland, denied another Australian-based Jason Collett victory.
Collett made the trip home to ride Selfie for his trainer father Richard.
Hardline, by Showcasing out of Midnight Breaker, was a $130,000 yearling at the Select Yearling Sale from the draft of Hallmark Stud.
Dal Cielo did well for third from a wide draw, ahead of pacemaking O’Dianne.