If it wasn't a bang, it was a very loud noise.

Mid afternoon Saturday the 2016-17 racing season exploded the way all New Zealand hoped and there were ominous signs for some of Australia's top horses.

With one or two exceptions our top horses in recent years have matched Australia's elite and there was a suggestion here last season the best might be yet to come.

When Valley Girl won Saturday's Harcourts Optimize Open at Ruakaka is was clear the transtasman assault could begin earlier than usual.


There was more than a touch of the exceptional about the way Valley Girl disposed of the high-class opposition, despite no previous experience at having raced at 1200m.

The options are the Caulfield Cup and the Cox Plate. "We will judge that after she runs in the Makfi [August 27] at Hastings," said co-trainer Donna Logan, just 14 hours back from holidaying in Asia.

Outside of Winx, who you couldn't beat on a motorbike, there are few worldbeaters in Australia, certainly no Kingston Towns or Octagonals.

Biggin Hill staggered most in finishing second just ahead of Hasselhoof, who delighted everyone except those who punted him into $2.40 favourite.

The race looked over when Hasselhoof loomed five deep early in the run home, but he looked to hit a flat spot just as you expected him to dash past his stablemate Valley Girl. He rallied again close to home.

"That was a super effort," said rider Matt Cameron. "His best work in the race was that final bit and that race will bring him on tremendously. He didn't handle that ground as well as I thought he might. I know he's won a couple in the mud at Ellerslie, but that was on loose, wet footing and he was able to get through the ground.

"He tried hard late, but it was just too tough for him at 1200m." If everything goes to plan, Hasselhoof could go right through the Hastings group one treble.

Stolen Dance finished close up fourth, an effort that pleased trainer David Green. "She was badly off in the weights and ended up down in the worst of the footing on the inside. She will be better at Hastings [for the Makfi]."

Ryan Mark, under his hefty 61.5kg, settled back and stayed there. He looked very fresh in the parade and owner and trainer John Morrell was not disappointed. "He's fat," he said. "He's never been this big and he's going to improve a lot."

Unquestionably the day belonged to Valley Girl, who has developed into a strong and confident individual.

There is a lot to look forward to.

The Logan/Gibbs stable, winner of five of the eight races, has a huge opinion of first-up winner Mongolian Falcon. The colt is bred to stay yet made it look easy over the 1000m.

Rider Leith Innes had only to shake the reins on Mongolian Falcon at the 220m and it was all over.

"He will be nominated for the Victoria Derby," said Gibbs.