Well-performed former Sydney galloper Skyman stepped out for his first New Zealand outing at Tauranga on Tuesday with new trainer Stephen Marsh and his owners, the Go Racing Elton Syndicate, keen for him to display the same competitive spirit that he showcased during his numerous Australian campaigns.
The eight-year-old European import won eight of his 37 starts from the Chris Waller stable, including four at Listed level, before Go Racing boss Albert Bosma made the decision to bring him to New Zealand to continue his career.
Marsh has had the son of Mukhadram for just over a month and was delighted to see him charge to the line in an 1100m open trial to finish a long neck away from dual Group One winner Legarto and Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) runner-up Talisker.
Marsh will now press ahead to a Group One target at Trentham with renewed confidence.
“He (Skyman) came to us in great order from Chris, but the big question was did he still want to be a racehorse?” Marsh said.
“He certainly had settled in well and appeared to be enjoying his new environment, so this was his first test and he passed with flying colours.
“We really just wanted to see him hitting the line and wow did he do that, as he didn't get a lot of room early in the straight but when he got clear he finished off beautifully at a distance well below his best.
“As long as he pulls up well and he is a very sound horse, then we will head to Trentham later this month for the Thorndon Mile (Group 1, 1600m).”
Marsh believes that Skyman is well suited to the Group One Trentham feature on January 20 and will also be well placed to tackle the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa a month later.
“He was a very good horse in Sydney and if he recaptures that form, he looks ideally placed with the set weights and penalties conditions of the Thorndon Mile,” he said.
“His main mission is definitely the Herbie Dyke at Te Rapa where he would also be in it up to his ears.
“Albert and several of his owners were at Tauranga to see him trial and I'm sure that has got the juices flowing for what lies ahead.”
Marsh was quick to strike at the Tauranga meeting with stylish Almanzor filly Almaceta showing plenty of fight in the home straight to break her maiden status over 1200m in the first race on the day.