It seems training an imported stayer is no longer a task exclusively left to Australia’s racing biggest names for their cashed-up clients.
Underlining just how far the northern hemisphere thoroughbred has infiltrated our racing landscape, the Australian debut at Rosehill on Saturday of an Irish stakes winner will create interest in a low-key, off-season meeting.
But instead of sporting silks for Chris Waller or Gai Waterhouse, Zanughan will step out for Noel Lamey, a trainer who has only had one runner to the races in 2012.
Lamey is best known for his success with broken down horses.
He is also a long-time friend of wealthy West Australian owner Bob Peters, ensuring he at least completes part of the criteria for success with overseas horses.
They share ownership of Zanughan and another import Red Alpha in a deal Lamey expects to bring rewards at some point of their Australian careers.
“I bought Red Alpha at last year’s sales in England and Bob bought Zanughan privately,” Lamey said.
Confirming what a changing world it is for Australian trainers, the imports are the only two horses Lamey puts a saddle on at the moment.
Zanughan was supposed to go to Perth but when Peters learned the horse once owned by the Aga Khan had one of the worst equine vices imaginable, he thought Sydney should be the five-year-old’s one and only Australian destination.
The horse is a windsucker, meaning it will anchor its top teeth to a rail or post, arch its neck and gulp in air.
It is said to be a pleasurable sensation but it leads to excessive wear and tear on the top front incisors, ultimately making it difficult for a horse to graze.
Lamey and Peters agreed to include each other in the ownership of their imports and the partnership heads to Rosehill with a reasonable level of expectation about Zanughan.
“I think he’s top-class but don’t get me wrong I don’t think he can win on Saturday,” Lamey said of Zanughan.
“It’s a strong race and he’s really a 2400-metre horse.”
Zanughan will be racing at a distance less than 2000m for the first time after five Irish starts which netted a Galway Listed win and a Group Three placing at Dundalk.
“That’s how they race over and he’s got a lot more dash than his form reads,” Lamey said.
“You had to see his win at Galway. He was ten lengths off them but he had them covered in a hundred yards.”