Plans are under way to have Jackfrost, last year's top hurdler, in Melbourne for a possible tilt at a couple of the feature steeplechases.
Jackfrost ended last season with a hat-trick of wins and notably completed the Grand National Hurdles (4200m)-Great Northern Hurdles (4200m) double.
He won the Riccarton feature effortlessly by eight and a half lengths and the manner in which he charged home late to claim the Great Northern Hurdles at Te Aroha suggested he could also star in the role as a steeplechaser.
Wingatui trainers Brian and Shane Anderton have given the Gallant Guru 8-year-old two recent runs in preparation for a planned Melbourne campaign, but the extremely testing track at Invercargill on Sunday prevented Jackfrost from having more than just have a run under his belt when third-last in a Rating 72 1600m, which was run in 1m 53.72s.
"He pulled up all right, but you couldn't take much out of the run," Shane Anderton said.
"The ground was just too heavy. He had 60kg on his back and he was not ready for a track that heavy. But it was a bit more mileage for him before Australia.
"He'll have another run over here at Riccarton on the flat over 2000m [on May 31] and if we're happy with him he'll then fly straight over."
Jackfrost is booked to be flown to Sydney on June 2 and be floated down to Melbourne, where he will have to pass a schooling test over steeplechase fences.
"He'll have to qualify over there, as they all do, and his first run will probably be a maiden steeplechase," Anderton said.
"The big thing is what weight the handicapper will give him over there. We're trying to find that out this week.
"Really there is still a lot of water to go under the bridge, but we're happy with him."
Jackfrost's preparation included a satisfactory school over the steeplechase fences at Wingatui last week in the hands of Jake Lowry.
The plan is to have Jackfrost based at Ballarat and there is a maiden steeplechase over 3200m at the local meeting on June 18 with the main mission, the A$350,000 Grand National Steeplechase (4500m), on the same track on August 25.
Between times there are such options to consider as the Moss Trooper Steeplechase (3500m) at Pakenham on July 21 and the Crisp Steeplechase (4200m) at Sandown on August 4.
- NZ Racing Desk