New Zealand-trained gallopers are already enjoying lucrative autumn campaigns in Sydney and Melbourne but the next wave of raiders to Australia face some unique challenges as the impact of Covid-19 takes hold.
Australia has now implemented a 14-day self-isolation period for anyone arriving in the country to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus, mirroring New Zealand's announcement, which came into effect just after midnight on Sunday.
While Kiwi horses can step straight into Australia and compete, they will be without their regular handlers unless they were one of a handful of stables that already have staff and horses based across the Tasman.
Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) winner Sherwood Forest and third placegetter Scorpz were amongst a shipment of horses set to travel to Sydney from Auckland last night. However, that flight has been postponed 24 hours.
The pair are set to race Saturday's Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) as a lead-up to the Group1 Australian Derby (2400m) a fortnight later.
"It is going Tuesday night at this stage," Pike said. "The hold-up was just over the professional grooms getting clearance to be classified as crew, so they can come in and out of Australia and New Zealand. They have had verbal clearance but the airlines want written clearance.
"I am probably one of the few lucky ones. Marshy [Stephen Marsh] and I have got an established base over there. Mark Hills was over there with The Bostonian and Not An Option and I picked Chris McNab [foreman] up on Sunday and sent him back over the Tasman before the isolation period came into effect.
"Aaron Kuru was going to go over on the plane with Sherwood Forrest and Mark was going to come back, but that is out of play now. Mark and Chris are over there now, so we are okay with our established base."
Stephen Marsh's racing manager Todd Pollard is also ensconced at Rosehill, having taken Elisa Carolina over and he is awaiting the arrival of high-profile stablemate Scorpz.
The powerful Te Akau team is headed in Australia by trainer Jamie Richards' father Paul who has moved north to Sydney, with Melody Belle joining Te Akau Shark and Probabeel.
Pike said the strange circumstances had also led to the Kiwis looking after each other even more than usual and banding together.
"I had Brent Taylor [owner] ring me to see if we would take Two Illicit over and just slot into our team, as Roger James [co-trainer] can't send any staff over as they would have to quarantine. Stephen sent Todd Pollard over last Sunday, so there is Chris, Mark, and Todd over there with five horses and it looks like Two Illicit will end up coming to our base as well."
- NZ Racing Desk