A trip to New Zealand for the rich Karaka Million is on the cards for talented colt Long Leaf who has remained unbeaten from two starts after narrowly taking out the Listed Merson Cooper Stakes at Sandown.
Co-trainer David Hayes has a high opinion of well-bred Long Leaf who is by Fastnet Rock out of the mare Frustrating.
Long Leaf was a $750,000 yearling at the Karaka sales this year and is a grandson of the late Parfore, the outstanding producing mare whose progeny includes Group One winners Terravista and Tiger Tees.
The $NZ $1 million Karaka Million (1200m) is at Ellerslie in late January and being a Karaka graduate, the colt is eligible to compete.
Hayes said he would consider the New Zealand race for the colt’s next start with a trial in between.
“It’s been the plan right through,” Hayes said.
Long Leaf rolled forward from a wide gate under jockey Kerrin McEvoy to be outside leader Sanglier turning for home.
The Tony McEvoy-trained debutante Oohood, the $3.20 favourite, stepped away a little slowly but sprinted quickly from the tail of the field in the straight to level up to Long Leaf at the 200m.
They fought it out to the line with Long Leaf ($4) getting home by a short head with another 1-1/2 lengths to Sanglier.
Hayes believes the Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) in Sydney, or Melbourne, during autumn would also be suitable aims for Long Leaf.
“I love this horse because I think he’s a 1400-metre horse and he’s won a 1000-metre Listed race before Christmas,” Hayes said.
“We thought he might sit back and be swooping, because we really feel he’s probably a Sires’ Produce Stakes horse.
“And when Tony’s horse came up on his outside so quickly, Kerrin (McEvoy) hadn’t let go yet and he showed real determination.”