Multiple Australian Group One winner Tofane is expected to fetch big money when she goes up for auction in Australia next week, but her trainer Mike Moroney says owners should remember there is also a solid market for racemares with New Zealand form only.
Moroney, who is in New Zealand this week to visit family and check on the New Zealand wing of the trans-Tasman stable he trains at along with Pam Gerard, watched his good filly Sassy Merlot finish second in Saturday's Gr.3 Rydges Rotorua Stakes (1400m) behind Francesca.
Sassy Merlot is set to stay in New Zealand in spring to seek a black-type victory to go with the three stakes placings she has already achieved, and though Australian form is more valuable in the marketplace, Moroney said there was plenty of money for mares whose black-type was achieved in New Zealand.
"Last year we put two mares through the market with mainly New Zealand form only. Pinmedown, (a Group Two winner) made A$630,000, and we had She's a Thief, who admittedly won a couple of open races on a Saturday in Australia, but her black-type was in New Zealand, and she made A$475,000," Moroney said.
"So these fillies that gain black-type in New Zealand are still well sought-after. We will leave Sassy Merlot in New Zealand for now and if she gets a stakes victory at home she'll be a valuable mare."
Moroney will head to Queensland next week to farewell Tofane, a New Zealand-bred daughter of Ocean Park who was initially trained from his Matamata stable, after a career that included Group One victories in Sydney, Queensland, and Melbourne.
"She's been a great mare. She's done it against all-comers, at weight-for-age, in three different states, left-handed and right-handed, and done it all as a four, five, and six-year-old," he said.
"Shadai bought her two close relations Youngstar (for A$1.4 million), and Funstar (for A$2.7 million), so there should be some interest in her."
Moroney won't be without representation on the track in Queensland either, with two horses running in the winter carnival there. Buffalo River will run in the Gr.3 BRC Sprint (1350m) on Saturday as a lead-up to the Gr.1 Stradbroke (1400m) on June 11, while Our Birdsong, who was 10th in the Listed Bright Shadow (1200m) at Eagle Farm last Saturday, will be set for black-type races over longer distances.
"We don't have as many horses up there as we expected, because we changed our minds with a few of them with the tracks so wet up there. We've decided to go to the paddock with quite a few of them and come back in spring."
Also eyeing feature racing is former New Zealand galloper Not an Option, who is being aimed at the Gr.1 Goodwood (1200m) in Adelaide on Saturday and sports the colours of Brendan and Jo Lindsay of Cambridge Stud.
"He's a vastly-improved horse since he's been gelded," Moroney said. "I know he showed glimpses of it in New Zealand but his runs since we've gelded him have been top class and he should go well in the Goodwood."
Moroney's team have had their highest-earning year yet in Australia, with prizemoney topping A$6.3 million, well above the previous record of A$5.4 million.
One of the big earners was Roch 'N' Horse, who arrived from New Zealand to win the Gr.1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at 100-1.
She earned more than $A900,000 in that race, but Moroney hopes the daughter of Per Incanto gets the chance to earn a much larger sum next spring.
"If she can get back to any sort of form in spring for the Everest (A$15 million, 1200m), I'm pretty sure she'll be one of the horses the slot holders will be after," he said.
"Her form in New Zealand was terrific and the win in the Newmarket was very, very good, so I'm pretty sure they'll have their eye on her."
One horse Moroney hadn't expected to be chasing spring money may now get another chance. Sound was set to retire after placing in the Gr.2 Auckland Cup (3200m) for a third time, but he will now be put back in training.
"We couldn't find a stud for him so we've taken him back to get ready for spring and we'll see where we go from there," he said.
"We possibly might have a go at the Caulfield Cup (Gr.1, 2400m) this time, not the Melbourne Cup (Gr.1, 3200m), and there's other options as well. He likes Moonee Valley and the Moonee Valley Cup (Gr.2, 2500m) is worth A$1 million this year, and there's the Zipping Classic (Gr.2, 2400m) he won twice at weight-for-age and that's worth A$750,000."
Other potential stayers that could find useful targets for Moroney in the next six months in Melbourne include former English gallopers Emissary and English King, the newly-purchased Gr.2 Italian Oaks (2200m) runner-up Memphis, the up-and-coming Bermadez, and former New Zealand galloper The Good Fight, a winner of the Flemington Cup (2800m) last winter after being transferred from Shaune Ritchie's stable.
"We tried bringing The Good Fight back earlier in the year but we weren't happy with his action and given he had a long season last year he was pretty tired all round and the vet suggested we give him a longer break, so we did.
"We're hoping to have him ready for some nice races at the end of winter and spring."
Other horses to watch for Moroney next spring could include Banker's Choice, who will be aimed at the Gr.1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) and have a Gr.1 Cox Plate (2040m) nomination thrown in, and Tokorangi, who will target fillies and mares black-type races.
– NZ Racing Desk