Horses like lightly-raced talent Dragon Leap don’t come around every day and connections of the Kiwi guns are keen to see just how good he could be this spring.
That meant making the trip across the Tasman despite coronavirus restrictions impacting travel between Australia and New Zealand for Kiwi stables in 2020.
While Dragon Leap arrived in Australia on Monday, Ellen Osborne, his minder while in the country, was forced to make the trip 14 days in advance to ensure they’d undergo the mandatory two weeks quarantine before he arrived.
However, that will be a small price to pay if Dragon Leap can indeed measure up against Australia’s best.
Dragon Leap has made the trip across in order to tackle Saturday’s Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick, where he is one of 19 horses nominated.
Trainers Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott hope to use the hit out as a springboard to Group 1 assignments later in the spring, including the Epsom Handicap.
Dragon Leap also holds a Cox Plate nomination while the four-year-old is eligible for the lucrative $7.5 million Golden Eagle in October.
O’Sullivan was keen to leave everything on the table.
“It is a nice to have a horse that we think is good enough to go over there and give it a good go,” O’Sullivan said.
“He fits into that criteria and he does it, we don’t know but he deserves his chance there.
“We have nominated for him for everything and will work it out as we go but a Cox Plate is probably unlikely to be fair.
“We are hoping to run him in the Epsom. He would drop a lot of weight for a race like the Epsom but you still have to make the field as well.”
Dragon Leap is already a two-time Group 2 winner with victories in the Auckland Guineas and Avondale Guineas in January.
He hasn’t raced for more than six months after falling short in the Group 1 NZ Derby on February 29 at Ellerslie.
The Pierro gelding failed to see out the Derby trip and was sent to the paddock after the run, ruling out a tilt at the Sydney autumn in the process.
“He has had a nice break and a steady build up,” O’Sullivan said.
“He had a barrier trial and we fairly happy with where he is at at the moment.
“There looks to be a lot of improvement in him in the coat so he should make progress.”
Osborne will play a crucial role for stable with O’Sullivan and Scott set to remain across the Tasman while coronavirus protocols are in place.
“She knows the horse well and we will rely on videos and reports from her to let us know how he is going. That’s just the process at the moment,” O’Sullivan said.
“There is nothing else we can do about it but he is a fairly uncomplicated horse.”
Glen Boss will ride Dragon Leap first up in the Tramway.