The Livamol Classic, the feature race run at the Hawke's Bay spring carnival at Hastings, has received an international tick of approval.
The weight-for-age Livamol (2040m) has been named among the top 100 Group I races in the world for 2018.
It is the first New Zealand race to make the top 100 since the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) introduced annual race rankings four years ago.
The rankings are based on the international ratings of the top four placegetters.
The 2018 Livamol was won by Savvy Coup from Lizzie L'Amour, Danzdanzdance and Scott Base.
Savvy Coup was a dual Group I winner in 2018 and Lizzie L'Amour had a runaway Group I win in the Herbie Dyke Stakes, and five seconds, all at Group level, from her eight starts in 2018.
Danzdanzdance franked the Livamol form by winning Group I races at her next two starts and was placed in the NZ Derby earlier in the year, and Scott Base was a Group II winner in 2018.
The Livamol Classic's rating of 116.50 put it in 91st place and in good company.
It was on the same mark as the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, which had been ranked 25th or better in each of the previous three years, and the Doomben Cup and Moir Stakes, two Australian Group I races.
The Livamol rated ahead of the Santa Anita Derby, in California, and the Australian Cup, Underwood Stakes and Toorak Handicap from Melbourne.
It was marginally behind four Australian features, including the Tancred Stakes and Manikato Stakes, and the Hong Kong Vase and English St Leger, which were all at 116.75.
"It was fantastic news," Hawke's Bay Racing CEO Butch Castles said. "It has been the icing on the cake after what was a very successful spring carnival [at Hastings], both from a racing and attendance point of view.
"The Livamol is a race with a long history and it is important for the New Zealand industry. Savvy Coup showed it can still be used as a springboard into the Cox Plate. It's a credible pathway through to Melbourne."
The race sponsor, International Animal Health Products (IAHP), was also delighted with the accolade.
"It was a thrill for us, and we were also thrilled for the club, which has worked very hard to a build up the Livamol Classic and the spring carnival in general," IAHP managing director Chris Lawlor said.
"It was a great step for the race and also for New Zealand racing. It's good for [New Zealand] racing to hear positive things. There's a tendency for people to get too tied up in the negative."
IAHP, which includes Livamol and BioWorma among its products, is based in Australia but has a New Zealand division.
The company has been sponsoring the Livamol Classic for five years and is keen to maintain the association.
"We are committed to the race," Lawlor said. "It's drawing good crowds and good fields.
"There are some good things happening in New Zealand racing and some of the best stayers in the world are produced in New Zealand," added Lawlor, who was a vendor in the Book 1 session at Karaka last week.
The Arc de Triomphe, in France, was the highest rated Group I race run in 2018, a position it has held in three of the past four years.
Races from 11 countries made the top 100, with Australia having the most, with 31.
Great Britain (19), United States (14), Hong Kong (11), Japan (10), France (6), Germany (3), South Africa (3), United Arab Emirates (3) and Ireland (2) were also represented.
Because of a seven-way tie for 97th, there were 103 races on the list.
Lamborghini powers to another win
Former Hastings-trained Lamborghini has struck a purple patch of form across the Tasman.
The 8-year-old Shinko King gelding recorded his third win in the space of four starts when taking out the A$135,000 Ladbrokes Handicap (2000m) at Caulfield last Saturday.
That victory followed one in a A$120,000 race over 2000m at Flemington in December and another one in a A$135,000 race over 2000m at Caulfield last month.
He is now the winner of six races from 31 starts and has amassed more than $300,000 in stakemoney for his Cambridge owner Tony Rider.
Lamborghini commenced his racing career from the Hastings stable of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen and posted his first win in a 1600m maiden at Woodville in January 2016.
He won twice more in New Zealand, including the 2017 Waipukurau Cup (2100m), before crossing the Tasman as a travelling partner for Savvy Dreams when that horse was campaigned in South Australia in autumn that year.
Lamborghini was placed in Adelaide and it was then decided to transfer him to the Victorian stable of Paddy Payne.
Lamborghini was the highest rated horse in last Saturday's Benchmark 84 race at Caulfield and carried topweight of 57kg, with apprentice Talia Hope claiming a 3kg allowance.
Hope settled the horse at the back of the six horse field and bided her time before making a sweeping move around the field coming to the home turn.
Lamborghini hit the front inside the last 300m and kept up a strong run to the line to win by a length.
Magnum back to ideal distance
Former Singapore galloper Magnum will drop back to his ideal distance tomorrow after finishing unplaced in the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham last month.
The Lauren Brennan-trained 6-year-old, part-owned by Havelock North's Jason Fleming, didn't settle in the mile feature and his trainer believes he is better suited to the 1400m distance of tomorrow's Group 1 BCD Group Sprint at Te Rapa.
"He was a little keen early, Matt (Cameron, jockey) said he fought him a little bit," Brennan said.
"There was no pace on and it wasn't run to his liking. In saying that, I'm not 100 per cent sure that he got the mile. He probably gets 1500m and the last 100m he struggles with.
"We are going to bring him back to the 1400m. I think that is his ideal distance and Michael Rodd will ride him."
Magnum has had three starts over 1400m in New Zealand, winning the Listed Flying Handicap at Awapuni last March before placing in the Group3 Red Badge Spring Sprint (1400m) at Hastings in the spring and the Group 3 J Swap Contractors Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa.
Elliot hoping for speedy recovery
In-form apprentice jockey Ryan Elliot has set himself a Group 1 target for his return to raceday riding.
The Hamilton rider fractured both of his thumbs in a trackwork incident on the morning of the Karaka Million twilight race meeting last month and as a result missed out on riding Group 1 performer Hypnos in the Karaka Million Three-year-old Classic (1600m).
Elliot will undergo an operation to mend his broken thumb and has set himself a target of returning to raceday riding on February 23 for the Group 1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic (1600m) at Otaki.
"I have got a broken thumb that will need an operation, that's only a day job, so it will be alright," Elliot said.
"The other thumb is fractured with an infection, but it will be all good hopefully.
"I am hoping to be back for Otaki, Haunui Classic Day, that's the main aim."
Moroney has positive vibes for NZ industry
Despite some tough times in the New Zealand thoroughbred breeding and racing industry at present, experienced bloodstock agent Paul Moroney believes there are opportunities out there that can be capitalised on.
Moroney was busy during this year's edition of the National Yearling Sale with eight yearlings purchased during the Book 1 session of the sale along with a further three to date from Book 2.
He was impressed with the quality of individuals he has seen at this year's sale, making particular comparison with what he perceived as a less than convincing catalogue at the recent Magic Millions Sale on the Gold Coast.
"Having been to the Magic Millions sale this year, personally I thought the quality was down a lot there," he said.
"I think the problems they have had with drought there in certain areas shone through. There were a lot of horses that were nowhere near as well-grown as in the past and lacked top-line, lacked bone.
"Here in New Zealand they have had a great year to grow horses, they have been naturally grown and the problems have been far less. That means a better stature and constitution.
"With the drought having lasted a long time in Australia it is also the foals at foot and even potentially the ones that are being carried by mares at the moment that are affected.
"It could mean a three-crop advantage for New Zealand to get some of the lost ground back, which could be a real advantage for us.
Moroney believes the Book 1 session of the sale was strong and stood up well under the current economic conditions, however, he cautioned that the breeding industry was facing some rapidly approaching challenges with both the local stallion and broodmare markets.
Moroney was happy to see the increased number of New Zealand trainers active during Book 1 although he is keen to see breeders in New Zealand upgrade both their stallion selections and broodmare bands to ensure they continue to attract a powerful international buying bench to the sale.
"Potentially some of the broodmare families are getting a little long in the tooth. It would be great to see an injection of new blood," he said.
And it seems to have come down to a two or three stallion sale as far as New Zealand-based stallions are concerned and we badly need some new sires coming through."