Quality filly Tokorangi has settled in well to her new surroundings in Melbourne as she prepares to make her Australian debut on Saturday in the Group 1 Australasian Oaks (2000m) at Morphettville.
The three-year-old daughter of Redwood made her way to Mike Moroney’s Flemington base ten days ago, with Moroney’s New Zealand training partner Pam Gerard confident she had thrived since finishing an unlucky seventh in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie last month.
“We gave her a freshen up after her Derby run and she has really come back nicely from that,” Gerard said.
“She flew over to Melbourne about ten days ago and has settled in as good as gold.
“She had a couple of quiet days and then had a jumpout last Thursday morning where Mark Zahra rode her and he was very pleased with her.
“At this stage I think Mark will ride her on Saturday, but that is still to be confirmed, although he did tell Mike he would be happy to go to South Australia to ride her in the Oaks.”
Moroney and Gerard had looked at a number of options for Tokorangi after her Derby run and settled on getting her across to Australia as that is where her future racing career lies.
“We gave her plenty of time after the Derby as I really wanted to get her over to Australia and give her the best opportunity to perform there,” Gerard said.
“We know it’s another big step up for our horses and I didn’t want her going over there tired.
“We wanted to do the right thing by her so that’s why we didn’t send her to Trentham for the New Zealand Oaks (Group 1, 2400m) as that would have meant another a tough trip there and back.
“We thought Saturday’s race was the best option as we didn’t want to go to Sydney and strike a wet track as that wouldn’t have suited her at all.
“We’re also hoping for a change in luck as she is an expert at finding trouble in her races so I’m hoping the tempo of the races and the quality of the jockeys will help her out on that front.
“Now that she is over with Mike that is where she will be staying as the prizemoney is so good.
“They will assess her after this run and then decide on continuing this campaign or sending her for a spell, but she will stay over there and try and get as much black type as she can.”
Tokorangi, who races in the colours of prominent Australian owner Ozzie Kheir, who bought into the filly early in her racing career, will be joined by another Kiwi raider on Saturday with the Stephen Nickalls-trained Llanacord also set to contest the race.
“We’re delighted with the way she (Llanacord) travelled,” Nickalls said.
“We flew into Melbourne and then went straight to Patrick Payne’s for the night.
“We then travelled down to Ryan Balfour’s stable at Adelaide and she has settled in well, put her head in the feed bin and eaten everything in sight.”
Nickalls admitted that a trip to Australia wasn’t in the original plan for the daughter of Contributer, but he and co-owners Kevin and Dianne Hopson had had a change of heart.
“After she ran third in the New Zealand Oaks we sat down and talked about going to Australia and we pretty much ruled it out,” he said.
“After a week we talked about it some more and thought you are only three once so why not have a go.
“We ruled out Brisbane as it is right-handed and she has never been that way before, so we thought let’s go to Adelaide for the Oaks and there is also a really nice 2500m race (Group 3 SA Fillies Classic) a fortnight later.
“We are in uncharted waters but she will present well and she will give her best as she always does.”
Progressive Frankel filly Steinem is the +320 favourite for the Australasian Oaks, with Tokorangi (+1100) and Llanacord (+1400) both double figure odds.