Raging hot favourite Sharp ‘N' Smart made good on the promise of co-trainer Graeme Rogerson as he showed all the star qualities he possesses with a superlative performance to take out the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m).
Raced at Te Rapa this year due to the current track renovations at traditional home Ellerslie, the Derby looked to be at the mercy of the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) runner-up after the son of Redwood stunned many with a victory in the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at the track last month.
That saw him installed the prohibitive favourite with regular New Zealand pilot Ryan Elliot aboard as the combination fulfilled punters wishes with a professional display.
Settled in midfield by Elliot, Sharp ‘N' Smart trucked along nicely before making a move to get handier approaching the 600m, before charging to the front rounding the home turn.
Briefly challenged by Full Of Sincerity, who clung on gamely for third, Sharp ‘N' Smart held out a late challenge from another outsider in Andalus who got within half a length but no closer at the finish.
2023 Group 1 New Zealand Derby Replay – Sharp ‘N' Smart
Rogerson, who prepares the horse with wife Debbie, is never shy of expressing a positive opinion about his horses but has reserved some special praise for his current star.
“This is good for the team as he is not an easy horse,” Rogerson said.
“I said to Ryan to watch him as he can switch off, as he did it in the VRC Derby.
“I think potentially he could be the best horse we have had in New Zealand for a long time.”
Rogerson is not scared of travelling with his horses and issued a warning to both the Australian and Hong Kong Racing officials that he has his sights set on some big events in their jurisdictions.
“I'd love to bring him to Hong Kong as they have been great to me,” he said.
“I think if he (Sharp ‘N' Smart) is alright he will be there for the Vase (Group 1 Hong Kong Vase, 2400m) in December.
“Hopefully by then he learns how to be a racehorse.
“I think the boys in him, we've got a horse and we will have a big spring in Australia and finish off in Hong Kong.”
All going to plan, Sharp ‘N' Smart is set to return to Australian shores for a two-race autumn campaign which will encompass the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) and the $5million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group 1, 2000m), both at Randwick.
Elliot was full of praise for his mount as well as Rogerson who has mentored him throughout his career.
“We got a nice position early and tucked in behind, before we got some clear air and came into it nicely,” Elliot said.
“He is just a big kid with so much to learn as coming up the straight he was waiting but then saw the other horses and kicked back strongly.
“I really have to thank Graeme as he has been huge in my career as he has brought me a long way and given me some great opportunities.”
Bred by Gerry Harvey, Sharp ‘N' Smart is out of a half-sister to Absalon, who won five races including two Listed victories in Brisbane.
Now the winner of six of his eleven starts, with a further four placings, the gelding has won over $3,027,000 in prizemoney.
Sharp ‘N' Smart was a $55,000 purchase from Westbury Stud's draft in Book 2 of Karaka 2021, then was passed in for $90,000 at the Ready to Run Sale later that year.