They are one of the more unlikely trios to be given any real chance in a major group one sprint race in years.

Lets start with the horse himself, Prince Oz, who will canter down to the start for the $250,000 Telegraph at Trentham this afternoon somewhere around fifth favourite.

That is a world away from the last time he raced in the North Island, his former home.

Back then he finished last of nine in a poor race at Waverley.


At least it was consistent. The start before he finished last of 12 at Awapuni, second last the start before that and 10th of 13 the one before that.

Back then he was a six-year-old gelding and trained by a talented horseman in Raymond Connors there was little reason to expect a change of stable would re-invent him.

Put simply, Prince Oz was going nowhere fast.

Until he did go somewhere, to Canterbury to join 65-year-old trainer Neill Ridley, for whom he has won all seven of his starts. Like Prince Oz stole a new motor off a truck in the ferry ride across Cook Strait.

The latest of those victories was the Stewards at Riccarton two months ago when he beat six of his race rivals today, hence the $12 bookies quote for today's glamour race.

Not that Ridley, who has never trained or ridden a winner at Trentham, knows how or why. The ascension of Prince Oz is as much a mystery to him as it is to us.

"I have no idea what happened to him," says Ridley. "I don't think we have done anything special with him, he just seems to like it down home. He has grown another leg.

"When you have people like Raymond and Mark send a horse to you you don't think it is going to improve, not like this.


"He is a lovely horse and I am lucky to have him but he is in the big time now. We both are."

Not that Ridley is intimidated. While he hardy knows his way around Trentham at least his jockey, Terry Moseley, does. Not with any great success mind.

After all, today's Telegraph ride will be Moseley's 200th around Trentham and he has racked up seven winners.

A horror strike rate of a winner every 28 rides on the track but there was never any thought given to taking one of the hardest working men in South Island racing off Prince Oz.

"I wanted him and the owners definitely wanted him," says Ridley.

No wonder. Moseley's strike rate on Prince Oz is a bit more impressive than his Trentham one. He has ridden the big son of O'Reilly six times for as many wins.

He is likely to have his work cut out today from the ace draw on an old horse who doesn't like to be bustled early.

The inside can be a tight squeeze down the Trentham dogleg, with plenty of outward pressure as the big field line up on to the course proper and those wider look to get nearer the rail. Still, Moseley has spent the last two weeks riding vastly inferior equines on the tight tracks at Omoto, Reefton and Hokitika. He has seen way scarier things than the Trentham running rail.

So can the unlikely tale of the former North Island loser horse, the trainer who has never had a Trentham placegetter and the veteran circuit jockey have a happy ending?

According to the bookies Prince Oz has a far, far greater chance than the South Island surprise packages of the last two Telegraphs, Enzo's Lad and Signify, both of whom return today.

Ridley wouldn't be here if he didn't think he had a chance.

"Sure, it looks tricky from barrier one but I'd rather have that than barrier 18," he offers, without a hint of caring that outside marble has gone to hot favourite and potential Horse of the Year, Melody Belle.

If he pulls it off Prince Oz will become just the second New Zealand galloper since 1994 to win eight races in a row.

The other was Sunline.

Why not. That is no more unlikely than the rest of his story.

Trentham times

• 2.35pm: $200,000 Thorndon Mile
• 3.47pm: $250,000 Telegraph.
• 4.22pm: $70,000 Desert Gold Stakes
• 4.55pm: $250,000 Wellington Cup

Coverage starts with Punters Lounge on Trackside 1 from 10am.