A crack at New Zealand’s richest race is among the options for well-bred two-year-old Long Leaf who will first chase a valuable stakes win at Sandown.
Long Leaf made a winning start to his career at Morphettville on October 28 and lines up for his second start in Saturday’s Listed Merson Cooper Stakes (1000m) at Sandown.
The colt was a $750,000 yearling at the Karaka sales in New Zealand earlier this year and co-trainer Tom Dabernig said January’s $NZ1 million Karaka Million was an option depending on the juvenile’s performance on Saturday.
“He’s a very well-bred Coolmore-owned horse and it would be good to get him some black type on Saturday,” Dabernig said.
“He’s also a Karaka Million horse, so it may be on the agenda to go over for the Karaka race if he was to perform well.
“That’s an option.”
The Karaka Million (1200m) is at Ellerslie on January 27.
Long Leaf is a son of Fastnet Rock out of the mare Frustrating who is a half-sister to a number of stakes performers including dual Group One-winning sprinter Terravista.
Frustrating is a daughter of the outstanding producer Parfore who died last year.
Along with Terravista, Parfore’s progeny includes fellow Group One winner Tiger Tees, former Singapore Horse of the Year Super Easy and stakes winners Ball Of Muscle and Our Lukas.
Long Leaf shares the second line of betting for the Merson Cooper at $4.40 behind the Tony McEvoy-trained debutante Oohood at $3.90.
Dabernig believes the colt has taken improvement from his debut win in Adelaide where he surged late to chase down the Lloyd Kennewell-trained Le Pomme De Pin in the final strides.
“In that race a horse of Lloyd Kennewell’s shot clear and just put him under a bit of pressure but then when he hit top gear he was quite strong in beating that horse on the line,” Dabernig said.
“He will definitely be mentally better for having that run.
“I think having the long straight at Sandown to balance up should hopefully suit him.”