There is a strong chance the Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott-trained Dragon Leap will be seen in action at Caulfield rather than Te Rapa this weekend, with the highly-talented six-year-old amongst the 20-strong nominations for the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) on Saturday.
The son of Pierro made an impressive return to racing when a closing second over 1100m behind Imperatriz at Ruakaka earlier this month. He has been well supported in futures markets for both the Foxbridge Plate ($6) and the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) ($4.80).
The multiple Group Two winner has raced on just four occasions in the past two years due to injury and is on the cusp of making what shapes as a competitive Memsie field with a capacity of 16.
“Fortunately, the flights are not until Wednesday afternoon, so we should be able to see if he makes the field for the Memsie and also keep a close eye on the weather,” Scott said of the 96-rater.
“He hasn't handled wet ground in the past and with the softer nature of the ground in New Zealand at present, we would like to get some consistent racing into him on better footing.”
Michael Dee has been tentatively booked to ride Dragon Leap should he step out at Caulfield on Saturday, with Scott admitting the chances of the horse returning for the Tarzino Trophy at Hastings are slim.
“If he was to not run as well as we hoped in the Memsie, then there is a chance that he could be back for the second day at Hastings.”
Scott was pleased with Dragon Leap's first-up run, particularly given his frustrating preparation last season.
“We couldn't have been more pleased with his first-up run. He settled well and quickened well and has come on in such an encouraging manner.” Scott said.
“All the team are so pleased to see him back to somewhere we knew he could.
“We had such a frustrating run with him last season with his feet, he was below his best. We are confident he is in good form and what will hopefully be a successful season in front of him.”
Australia is something the Matamata operation is also contemplating with fellow Group Two winner Dark Destroyer, however, his imminent targets lie in his homeland.
“We will take it one race at a time with him. He is going to have a trial (at Taupo) on Wednesday,” Scott said.
“David and Dianne (Archer, owners) were quite keen to run him at Hastings in the first race (Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy, 1400m) and then look to options from there.
“It looks to be a good kick-off point which keeps him closer to home in this early part of the spring.”
The son of Buffalo Man had strung together a couple of placings and Scott said luck hadn't been on his side in those runs.
“He certainly deserved it,” Scott said. “He has been racing without a lot of luck in his last two or three starts, so it was good to see him get a well-deserved win.
“Whilst he is racing well, we will continue on with him. He has had a bit of racing now but has had good spacing.
“It was encouraging to see the good turn of foot he showed on Saturday. He is racing well.”
Meanwhile, Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) placegetter Karman Line pleased with her 1000m trial at Avondale last week, however, it may be a while before punters see her on raceday.
“She is a typical young mare that has been a bit slow to come to it in her coat and condition,” Scott said.
“We won't be rushing with her, we are hoping that her trial last week will just stimulate her coat and appetite and we will look to find somewhere to go.
“Craig (Grylls) rode her the other day and was quite cautious of the soft ground, he said she was able to just handle it. We might have to show a bit of patience with her and wait for some firmer ground.
“By doing that it will give her a chance to come in her coat and condition a bit more.
“We haven't made any plans with her, but it was so encouraging to see her trial in the manner she did the other day.”