Imported gelding Chance To Dance made his raceday debut in New Zealand a winning one when he burst between runners to claim the Listed Haunui Farm Karaka Classic at Pukekohe yesterday.

The lightly raced eight-year-old was purchased by Fortuna Bloodstock's John Galvin out of the Lloyd Williams team shortly before running in the Sydney Cup earlier this year. Prepared by the Te Akau Racing team of Jamie Richards and Stephen Autridge, he finished a creditable fifth in the Group One feature before heading back to New Zealand for a winter break.

Yesterday's 1600 metre contest was the gelding's first run in a new campaign and he displayed plenty of dash in the hands of Opie Bosson to settle in a mid-field position behind the solid pace set by the free-going Admiral. Bosson bided his time before improving his position early in the straight to lay down a challenge to the pair of Brilliant Shine and Waipipi Lad who had set down to fight out the finish at that point.

Despite being squeezed between the pair in the closing stages, Chance To Dance drove strongly to the line to snatch victory in a manner that suggested there is more to come for the Teofilo gelding.

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Galvin was quick to admit there had been confidence in the camp that the noted stayer could perform over a shorter distance in his first appearance in New Zealand.

"He has done it before in a much tougher venue than this which was in Australia in Melbourne," he noted.

"He is a class horse who has been working with Gingernuts this week in trackwork and he hasn't given an inch to him.

"He was vulnerable today with the weight he had under handicap conditions but he is a quality horse."

A mouth-watering clash of the Te Akau stablemates is now a real prospect as Galvin outlined the immediate plans for the horse which include a shot at the Gr. 1 Livamol Classic in Hastings in a fortnight.

"The plan was always to bring him back to New Zealand and race in some of the spring features before having a look at a campaign in Australia," he said. "Jamie actually said to me the bad news was that we would be facing Gingernuts in the Livamol but I'm not sure why that's bad news as we're quite happy to face him."

- NZ Racing Desk