New Zealand is targeting in beautifully on the A$1 million Australian Oaks, but the reign of Mongolian Khan may be over.
Last season's Horse of the Year may be looking closely at the stallion barn after beating one horse home in Saturday's A$1.5 million BMW at Rosehill.
Co-trainer Murray Baker said from Sydney yesterday Mongolian Khan would undergo extensive veterinary tests tomorrow after which a decision would be made on his future.
It will either be retirement to stud or a last hurrah in the A$2 million Sydney Cup.
"He looks a million dollars," said Baker.
Mongolian Khan drew barrier No6 in the BMW and somehow got parked four wide into the first bend.
He and Opie Bosson were then unable to get closer to the inside running rail than three deep and when a couple of horses improved around their outside at the 500m Bosson as good as sat up on the stallion and he drifted out.
Much better came from New Zealand fillies Valley Girl and Capella in the A$500,000 Vinery Stakes (2000m).
Valley Girl finished second, three-quarters of a length from surprise winner Single Gaze and Kathy O'Hara, and Capella finished fifth, 1.8 lengths from the winner.
Valley Girl and Hong Kong-based rider Brett Prebble copped a lovely run behind the leaders and drove through hard against the rail in the home straight.
That was her first Australian start and first serious test since the Derby at Ellerslie and should have her in great shape for the Oaks. Capella was caught wide and did extremely well to finish as close as she did. With a better run she should be in contention in the Oaks on Saturday week.
The postscript to the BMW was winning rider Hugh Bowman being fined for excessive use of the whip under Australia's controversial new rules which prevent jockeys using the whip more than five times before the final 100m.
Bowman was found guilty of using the whip seven times in his brilliant ride to slide forward on Preferment from the 800m and beat stablemate Who Shot Thebarman by half a neck.
In admitting his guilt, Bowman was unhappy and asked acting chief steward Greg Randolph: "Why is the rule in place?"
"We're not going into the philosophicals of the rule," the Sydney Morning Herald reported Randolph as saying.
Bowman responded: "I know I breached the rule, but I haven't used it too much. I know it's a big race."
And surely that's the point.
Bowman, a magnificent competitor, went out there to win the race, his main obligation being to Preferment's owners.
He did what he had to do to win and is such a great horseman he would not thrash an animal.
It makes that new rule a joke.
It would be impossible to hear a jockey come in from being beaten a nose in a Melbourne Cup and saying: "If only I could have hit the horse one more time."
You do what you have to do to win a race. And, you don't think Preferment's owners will be paying his fine? You'd like to be betting on it.
They picked up close to A$1 million for the win.
The no-more-than-five rule might be fine for a 1000m sprinter, but for stayers it's a different matter.
Preferment is a rugged type by Zabeel and the sort of horse than needs encouragement.
He will go forward, but needs a forceful rider.
Bowman knew exactly what he had to do.