Promising colt Savaglee wasn’t purchased with New Zealand’s richest two-year-old event in mind, but it’s emerged as a serious target.
The youngster was an effortless winner at his only appearance and another bold showing in Saturday’s Listed Counties Challenge Stakes (1100m) will further boost his $1 million TAB Karaka Million (120m) prospects.
Savaglee was secured out of breeder Waikato Stud’s draft at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale earlier this year for $400,000 with The Oaks Stud General Manager Rick Williams signing the ticket.
“He doesn’t seem to be bothered by his shins or the usual things that can happen to two-year-olds colts, he’s made us race him really,” Williams said.
“I wasn’t aiming at the Million when I bought him, obviously I thought he was a sharper sort of Savabeel but I’m not pretending I thought he was a pre-Christmas Savabeel.
“He’s basically told us he wants to race so we’ll let him.”
Trained by Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard, Savaglee had won a trial at Te Awamutu before he headed south to romp home at his Trentham debut by four lengths.
“We’ll learn a bit more about him on Saturday because we don’t know yet if he beat a lot at Trentham, but he looks well above average,” Williams said.
“So far so good, he’s certainly quick and he had a lot in reserve at Trentham.
“If he was to win or be unlucky, he’ll head to the Eclipse Stakes (Gr.2, 1200m) back at Pukekohe and then the Karaka Million, that would be the target for a horse like him.”
To be ridden by Michael McNab, Savaglee will only be opposed by five rivals on Saturday so his outside barrier isn’t considered an issue.
“We drew six out of six but that won’t matter and there will be no excuses. He’s trained on well and we’re expecting a good run from him,” Williams said.
“There’s a few nice horses in there so we’ll have a much clearer view whether he progresses through the ranks like I hope he will.”
Williams also has high hopes for Darci Brahma’s homebred daughter Desert Island (NZ), who is trained by Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray, in the Franklin Long Roofing Handicap (120m).
“She certainly trialled up as though she would be right in it,” Williams said.
“We couldn’t find a senior rider, so we got Jimmy Chung with his claim (3kg) and we’re hopeful.”
The Oaks will also have eyes on the Cranbourne meeting where its colours will be carried by He’s Beset (NZ) (Darci Brahma) in the closing event, the Freeway Ford Shooting Stars (1500m).
The Darci Brahma four-year-old won two of his nine starts from Tony Pike’s stable before joining Nick Ryan’s Flemington yard and finished third in his Australian debut at Bendigo.
“He was unlucky first up and could be in the mix, hopefully it will be a nice Saturday for us,” Williams said.