Racing: 'The Hoof' to kick butt in Sydney

By Mike Dillon

The real opposition should come from the two former European horses in race
Hasselhoof wins the Rich Hill Mile on a slow surface at Ellerslie on New Year's Day. Photo / Trish Dunell
Hasselhoof wins the Rich Hill Mile on a slow surface at Ellerslie on New Year's Day. Photo / Trish Dunell

The Hoof is about to attempt to put the boot into the Aussie opposition.

Unbeaten New Zealander Hasselhoof will have his first start in Australia at Randwick this afternoon in a race that will capture the attention of both racing nations.

He will beat all the known Australian campaigners - that's the opinion of Australian form guru Brett Davison - but that's not the end of the fight, says the Sydneysider.

"The real opposition should come from the two former European horses in the race, Arab Dawn, trained by John O'Shea, and Chris Waller's Libran."

Arab Dawn is having his first Australian start for the Godolphin stable and Chris Waller gave Libran one Australian outing during the Melbourne spring carnival before easing him and setting him for this Sydney autumn carnival.

"These European horses all go well early in their Australian preparations and it's always difficult to line up their Northern Hemisphere form with ours," says Davison.

"From what I've seen of Hasselhoof on television he should have the Australians in this race covered."

Rain in Sydney yesterday, following weeks of unsettled conditions, had the Randwick track a heavy 8 yesterday.

"It should be somewhere around a soft 6 [today]," says Davison.

Although five of Hasselhoof's six unbeaten runs have been on officially slow surfaces in New Zealand, none of the tracks have been particularly testing.

The time for the Rich Hill Mile victory last start at Ellerslie on January 1 was a respectable 1.36.68 for 1600m on a slow surface.

Unless significant rain arrives in Sydney today, it's unlikely track conditions will be a critical factor.

More critical will be where Hasselhoof ends up after 300m of the 1600m journey from his No 3 draw - the one position that could be disastrous would be against the rail with a bunch of Australian jockeys outside him determined to keep him locked up there. Davison says in his opinion there is zero chance of that happening.

"They will show him the rail inside the first 200m that's for sure, but looking at the horses around him, if Matt Cameron is absolute about staying away from the rail that should be no issue."

If that is true then there will definitely not be an issue. Hasselhoof has travelled to Sydney in good shape.

"He's settled in well, he's eating well and he did two nice rounds of slow work this morning," said co-trainer Donna Logan from Sydney.

Retained rider James McDonald will ride what is considered the second string Godolphin horse, Medcaut, with the Arab Dawn ride going to 3kg claiming apprentice James P. Innes. The net result of that will see Hasselhoof concede Arab Dawn 3.5kg. Chris Waller has engaged Brenton Avdulla for Libran.

Hasselhoof was yesterday quoted at between $2.60 and $2.80, but most good Australian judges believe he will start shorter. Says Davison: "If there is no money for either Arab Dawn or Libran he might start at around $2.20, but if there is money around either of those imports, you might get around $2.60-$2.70."

Donna Logan is keen to get Volkstok'n'barrell back to Sydney where he won last year's Rosehill Guineas.

The four-year-old had a forgettable Melbourne spring carnival and was later diagnosed with a form of asthma.

He showed he had recovered with a stylish second to Turn Me Loose in a barrier trial this week and will run in a group one race in New Zealand before a decision is made on an Australian campaign.

- Additional reporting AAP

- NZ Herald

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