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Mid-winter kick off for imported Cups hope

Leading trainer Ciaron Maher.
Co-trainer Ciaron Maher will launch the Australian campaign of import South Pacific at Caulfield.

It may be the middle of winter and the best horses are only just returning to work, but for South Pacific a race at Caulfield will have spring significance.

South Pacific makes his Australian debut in the Neds Money Back Odds Handicap that has connections hoping will lead the horse being a Cups contender.

Formerly prepared by Aidan O’Brien, South Pacific is now trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace having arrived in Australia late last year.

South Pacific defeated the now Lindsay Park-trained Constantinople, an unlucky fourth in last year’s Caulfield Cup, at Royal Ascot before finishing under 10 lengths behind Stradivarius, regarded the world’s best stayer, at Goodwood last July.

That was the last time South Pacific was in public and Eustace said the horse was a “thorough stayer”.

“He hasn’t raced for a long time but his work has been solid and he seems to have good lung capacity,” Eustace said.

“He’s fit enough to run 2000 metres and we’re looking forward to seeing him hit the line strong.”

South Pacific arrived in Australia with recent Sandown winner Bartholomeu Dias and has done the majority of his work at the beach and stable’s Caulfield base.

Eustace said South Pacific was purchased by Darren Dance’s Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock as a Cups contender with the first target for the horse being The Bart Cummings at Flemington in October which provides the winner a ballot exemption into the Melbourne Cup.

“That race gives the right sort of spacing into the Cup plus it guarantee’s you a start as well,” Eustace said.

“The 2500 metres on a flat galloping like Flemington is what you would think he is crying out for.

“He’ll have three, maybe four runs leading into that race. He won’t be over-raced but the runs will be spaced quite nicely.

“We’re kicking him off nice and early so we can adapt the program along the way if we need to.”

South Pacific, to be ridden by Damien Oliver, was a $15 chance in betting on Friday in a market dominated by Harbour Views, quoted the $2 favourite.

French-bred Harbour Views, imported into Australia before he had raced, is looking to increase his rating ahead of break before a spring campaign aimed at the Cox Plate.

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