Kiwi jockey James McDonald returns to Australian racing today to partner a horse at Wyong who is being earmarked for serious spring carnival contests.
McDonald has been booked to ride the Murray Baker-trained Dundeel, touted as a possible Victorian Derby prospect on the back of a dominant debut win in New Zealand in April.
Dundeel, by High Chaparral from Zabeel mare Stareel (out of 1992 NZ Oaks winner Staring), arrived in Sydney less than a fortnight ago and has settled in to his new environment at Warwick Farm, according to Baker's son Bjorn.
"He is a lovely athletic horse, a real classical looking animal," Bjorn told the Herald Sun. "He hasn't got it all his own way at Wyong, though. He has to carry 58kg, 1350m is well short of his best distance and he will have to race on a tight-turning track.
"There is no hiding that he is a great prospect and if he is running on strongly at the finish, then we will be happy."
Among Dundeel's Wyong opposition will be the Tim Martin-trained Red Dynamite, who was an impressive Goulburn winner on debut before finishing at the tail of the five-horse field in the listed Rosebud (1200m) last start.
Red Dynamite will be out to book a return to stakes racing with his Wyong performance.
"I'm hoping he'll go well tomorrow and then go to the Ming Dynasty," Martin said yesterday.
"I thought we might strike a weak race going to Wyong in a no-metro win event but it's a high-quality race."
The listed Ming Dynasty Quality (1400m) for 3-year-olds will be run at Warwick Farm on September 8.
McDonald will also ride Dear Demi and Steps In Time at Warwick Farm on Saturday before returning home to ride at Hastings on September 1.
He will then return to Sydney and establish himself permanently in time for the spring carnival.
* French stayer Dunaden could return not only to defend his Melbourne Cup crown but also to contest the Caulfield Cup.
News that Dunaden's connections favour a return to Melbourne, rather than a run in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, came as Americain was confirmed to be on his way to Melbourne.
The 2010 Cup champion will be on a plane bursting with internationals ready to cherry-pick Melbourne's spoils.
Craig Williams, who was expected to ride Dunaden in France in his lead-up to the October 7 Arc, told the Herald Sun he had not been told of any change in plans.
He said he had read on the internet that trainer Mikel Delzangles was leaning towards the Melbourne spring.
Part-owner Gerry Ryan said Americain would travel with the first shipment of overseas horses, which is expected to include a record number of Caulfield Cup runners.
While Americain beat only one runner in the seven-horse 3000m Prix Kergorlay at Deauville on Sunday, trainer Alain de Royer Dupre, jockey Gerald Mosse and connections were delighted.
De Royer Dupre said Americain, having his first outing since his sixth in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in late April, had needed the run.
He said the 8-year-old would start in the Moonee Valley Cup, a race he won last year, before his third start in the Melbourne Cup.
Kergorlay winner Joshua Tree, trained by Marco Botti - who also prepared Jakkalberry to win the American St Leger on Sunday - may be entered for the Melbourne Cup, but he is more likely to head to the Canadian International at Woodbine.
Brigantin, trained by Andre Fabre, produced the eye-catching run of the Kergorlay to finish second, a length behind Joshua Tree. He, too, is destined for the Melbourne spring carnival.
Owner Barry Irwin told Racing Victoria international scout Leigh Jordon that Brigantin, already entered for the Caulfield Cup with a nomination pending for the Melbourne Cup, would be on the first shipment to Melbourne.