New Zealand mare Probabeel looked every inch an Epsom winner cruising away with her final lead-up race at Royal Randwick in Sydney yesterday.
The Matamata four-year-old had been heavily backed in the A$160,000 Bill Ritchie and never looked in danger of defeat, settling handier than usual and then striding to the lead at the 100m mark.
Trainer Jamie Richards was using the race to sharpen Probabeel for her main aim of the Sydney spring, the A$1 million Epsom also at Randwick on October 3.
"It was an ideal win for what we are aiming her at," said Richards.
The 1400m win should springboard Probabeel perfectly into the Epsom after which she could even travel down to Victoria for the Cox Plate.
Owned by Brendan and Jo Lindsay from Cambridge Stud, the daughter of Savabeel is the winner of two Karaka Millions and is developing into one of the most commercial broodmare prospects among the New Zealand mares.
She is now the $7 second favourite with Australian bookies for the Epsom.
Kiwi-owned mare Verry Elleegant raced like a horse looking for more distance with her fourth in the George Main Stakes at Randwick.
The warm favourite settled off the speed for rider James McDonald but hit a flat spot at the top of the straight which saw her copping a small squeeze as she battled to get clear of those outside her. She hit the line well but looks like a mare better suited to the 2000m and longer targets she has ahead.
The George Main was won by Kolding.
Catalyst fails in Shorts
Catalyst's Sydney debut could hardly have gone worse. The Te Awamutu galloper dropped out to last in the A$500,000 Shorts at Randwick after trailing, racing well below his New Zealand best. His entire Sydney spring campaign may now be up in the air.
Dealing to them
American Dealer upset the favourites in the $140,000 Sires' Stakes Final at Alexandra Park in Auckland on Friday night. The Ray Green-trained pacer outstayed Krug after making the pace, giving his driver David Butcher his first Group 1 driving success in New Zealand since 2011.