The biggest prizes eluded the Kiwis on the first day of The Championships in Sydney but there were still plenty of reasons for New Zealand racing fans to smile.
The New Zealand-trained horses were unplaced in the A$3 million Doncaster won by Cascadian and the A$2m ATC Derby won by Explosive Jack, but Cambridge trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman won the A$300,000 Chairman's Handicap with Quick Thinker.
The 4-year-old recorded his first win since the ATC on a similarly wet track and is now a $15 chance for next Saturday's Sydney Cup.
As good as he was, fellow New Zealand gallopers Sir Charles Road and Concert Hall both disappointed in the Chairman's and would need to improve enormously to have any chance in the Cup.
New Zealand's assault on The Championships will receive some huge boosts next week with Probabeel, Amarelinha and Entriviere joining the Kiwi contingent, and they will be welcome additions, especially if the Randwick track dries this week as expected.
The three Kiwis in the Derby had no excuses, with pacemaker The Frontman first home in seventh, one spot ahead of Rocket Spade and Milford, but the race was a triumph for the NZ breeding industry.
The first three home — Explosive Jack, Young Werther and Lion's Roar — were all bred here and sold at the Karaka yearling sales, maintaining a remarkable record in the derby for New Zealand-bred and/or trained horses.
Sprint king Nature Strip defended his title in the A$2.5m TJ Smith, bolting away for ex-pat trainer Chris Waller and jockey James McDonald.
It was McDonald's 51st Group 1 success and his second of the day after he rode Anamoe to an enormous win in the Inglis Sires.
For good measure, Nature Strip is part-owned by former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
New Zealand's rep in the Doncaster, Aegon, was trapped three wide and never looked a winning hope, his chances of finishing closer hindered by missing a gap at the top of the straight.
There was still almost a Kiwi success in the Doncaster, as Icebath, a daughter of the late Waikato Stud stallion Sacred Falls, was a close second to Cascadian.
● The $200,000 Breeders Stakes will be held at Te Rapa next Saturday after yesterday's Te Aroha meeting was abandoned after three races.
The meeting was called off for safety reasons after the horse first past the post in race three, Extortion, slipped and fell, with both the horse and jockey Sam Collett coming to no harm.
Oddly, Extortion was relegated to second, as in a racing rarity, the third-placed horse was promoted to first because on a racing incident unrelated to the subsequent slip.
After jockeys and stewards inspected the track, it was decided to abandon the rest of the meeting.