Sword Of State, a $600,000 purchase by Te Akau boss David Ellis at the Magic Millions Yearling Sale produced a demolition job on debut at Te Rapa on Saturday when winning by 6.50 lengths.
It was emphatic statement of intent by the Jamie Richards trained son of Snitzel, but the result also underlined how New Zealand prize-money levels can compromise their runners in the greater scheme of things.
Chasing an elevated position in the order of entry for races like the Magic Millions 2yo Classic for example, for which Sword Of State is obviously eligible, is almost bridge too far to be achieved locally.
Saturday’s race was worth $16 200 to the winner … a push along to be sure, but a return which pales in comparison to the prize-money on offer in Australia and so it is not a surprise that Sword Of State will not be seen at the big Gold Coast meeting in January.
Not that trainer Jamie Richards is bemoaning the fact. He is firmly focussed on Sword Of State’s next mission and how the horse is progressing as he indicated when talking about Sword Of State and Brando, who was another fine stable winner on Saturday.
“Those horses are important to us as they are high profile colts that we are trying to develop,” Richards said when talking New Zealand Racing News.
“He (Sword Of State) is one that we will aim at the Group One juvenile features after he has a run in the Eclipse Stakes (Gr.2, 1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
“He has improvement to come and is a professional racehorse who is bred to be a two-year-old. He has taken a little time to strengthen up, but he is going the right way now.”
Of course, the imbalance in prize-money is not New Zealand’s cross to bear alone.
The difference in prize-money between states in Australia also clearly favours some and disadvantages others but there are clearly more opportunities to go past the Magic Millions order of entry cut-off point in Australia than is on offer in New Zealand.
Wherever you are based though, the route to earning a Magic Millions run is a dynamic that has to be carefully managed with some connections opting for the extra run to make sure of a place in the final line-up while others have a throw of the dice as they prefer to wait it out and hopefully get their horse there fresh on the day.
Always interesting times.