The countdown to the Spring Racing Carnival has begun with a group of high-class horses landing in Melbourne at the weekend to be prepared for Victoria’s prized spring features.
Five horses acquired by a prominent Victorian syndicate of owners – headed by Ozzie Kheir – arrived from Japan, while the Gai Waterhouse-owned Hush Writer flew in from France via the UK.
The sextet will complete two weeks quarantine at Racing Victoria’s International Horse Centre at Werribee, before joining Australian trainers ahead of the Spring Racing Carnival.
Tosen Basil, Admire Robson and Cassius headed to the Darren Weir stable, while Happy Moment and Danon Roman joined fellow Japanese import Ambitious at the Anthony Freedman stable.
Cups contender Tosen Basil is the headline act among Kheir’s imports, having finished a brave sixth in Japan’s premier two-mile race, the Tenno Sho, at his last appearance. A lightly-raced six-year-old, he finished third to international globetrotter Highland Reel in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) three starts back.
Veteran stayer Happy Moment and classy sprinter-miler Cassius have raced exclusively in Group company in Japan over the past 12 months, while Admire Robson, who has been unplaced just once in nine starts, and Danon Roman are untapped staying talents.
Kheir said he was looking forward to his new acquisitions featuring prominently during the Spring Racing Carnival.
“I am very much looking forward to the Spring Racing Carnival as I think it is shaping up to be one of the best years of quality horses travelling from both Europe and Japan,” Kheir said.
“We have our existing contenders like Marmelo, Wall of Fire and Ambitious who have improved, and we’re excited to add the new internationals from Japan to our list of contenders.
“I think Tosen Basil and Admire Robson are the two best horses I have purchased. One is a seasoned stayer with proven performances against world-class Group 1 horses, and the other is a future star by Deep Impact.”
Waterhouse takes over the handling of Hush Writer with her co-trainer Adrian Bott, and the first lady of Australian racing will be hoping the northern hemisphere three-year-old can emulate last year’s Melbourne Cup winner, Rekindling.
Placed in all three starts in France, including last month’s Group 2 Prix Hocquart (2400m), the Japanese-bred colt is likely to begin his pursuit of Spring Racing Carnival glory in September.
The 2018 Spring Racing Carnival begins on 1 September with the running of the $1 million Memsie Stakes (1400m), with nominations for the $7.3 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) and $5 million Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) closing two days prior. Nominations for the $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) close on 7 August.