A horse bought for a crack at the country's biggest pot of juvenile gold is now making smooth progress toward the richest 3-year-old prize.
High early hopes went unfulfilled with Swissta, but his connections now have eyes for the $1 million Vodafone New Zealand Derby.
"My son Jason was going to come over and ride him at Ellerslie the Christmas before last in the maiden two-year-old race and then come back for the Karaka Million, but the horse went shin sore," trainer Richard Collett said.
"He did show a good turn of foot as a young horse and it's been a pleasant surprise that he can race on the speed now and relax."
Swissta has beaten the older horses twice this preparation and last time out he successfully reverted to his own age group company to win the Great Northern Guineas on New Year's Day.
"He's come through that race very well," Collett said. "I think he'll run at least 2000m very comfortably and tentatively the plan is to go to a mile at Tauranga and then the Waikato Guineas, but a final decision is yet to be made."
Swissta is an $18 chance in the Derby market, while stablemate Top Prospect is also at $18.
Also a son of Swiss Ace, Top Prospect completed his hat-trick of wins in the Trevor Eagle Memorial before he was side-lined with a hamstring tear.
"He's back in work now and he looks really well " the little break has been good for him to be honest," Collett said. "He may run in the Karaka Mile."
A gear addition may provide the edge that Oscar Eight needs to sign off his New Zealand career in style.
The lightly-tried youngster will make his final appearance for Nigel Tiley in the Karaka Million at Ellerslie on January 29.
"He'll be heading off to Singapore after that," the Pukekohe Park trainer said. "That was always the plan."
The son of Showcasing, who is raced by prominent owner and Karaka supporter Chian Kin Phua, has finished in the money in all three of his starts, including a most recent fourth at Ellerslie last month.
"Initially, I was a bit disappointed, but he looked like he went up to win and then got a little bit lost," Tiley said.
"Michael McNab said the horse thought he had done enough so I'll work him in blinkers and we'll probably put them on in the Karaka Million."
Oscar Eight is out of the winning Bigstone mare Zafonique, whose Ferlax colt (Lot 1114) will be offered by Haunui Farm during the Festival Sale at Karaka next month.
Meanwhile, a minor mishap forced Oscar Eight's stablemate Excelleration to bypass the Eclipse Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year's Day.
"She had a setback when she got cast in her box and tore a little muscle in her chest, but she'll be fine," Tiley said. "She looks great and I think her target will be the Matamata Breeders' Stakes."
By Exceed And Excel, Excelleration impressed when she made a winning debut on her home track at the end of November.
She is out of group one performer Abeautifulred, whose Alamosa colt (Lot 509) is in Wellfield Lodge's NZB Select Sale draft to Karaka next month.
- NZ Racing Desk