Long Leaf Raids Karaka Million 3YO Classic

Australian raider Long Leaf (Fastnet Rock) winning the $1 million Karaka Million 3YO Classic. Photo: Trish Dunell
Australian raider Long Leaf (Fastnet Rock) winning the $1 million Karaka Million 3YO Classic. Photo: Trish Dunell

Three Australian raiders have won the $1m Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie, and on Sunday the $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic had its first Australian-trained winner.

The $750,000 Premier Sale purchase Long Leaf (Fastnet Rock) is trained by David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig for an ownership group that includes New Zealand Bloodstock co-founder Sir Peter Vela along with Coolmore, MV Magnier, Dr Demi O’Byrne and Michael Kirwan.

Long Leaf had been a one-time contender for last year’s Karaka Million 2YO. New Zealand audiences had to wait another 12 months to see him in action on Kiwi soil, but it was worth the wait.

The well-bred colt was ridden by James McDonald, a star New Zealand jockey now plying his trade in Sydney. McDonald has had a long and successful partnership with Sir Peter Vela, headed by the Group 1 Telegraph (1200m) with Guiseppina (NZ) (Johar).

McDonald brought Long Leaf across from his wide gate to settle nicely in midfield as Langkawi (NZ) (Helmet) set the pace. As they rounded the home turn, Long Leaf was a close sixth and looming large on the outside.

The Real Beel (NZ) (Savabeel) ran an enormous race, circling the field and hitting the lead at the top of the straight. But Long Leaf charged through on her inside, overpowering her in an exciting battle to the finish and winning by a neck.

Dual Group One winner Madison County (NZ) (Pins), who got well back in the field, ran on gamely out wide for a close third.

“It’s a great thrill for connections, with Sir Peter Vela and the Coolmore boys,” McDonald said. “He’s a super horse and we got the result.”

“This is one of my favourite tracks out of everywhere I have ridden. To get a result for this team has been a great thrill.”

Sir Peter Vela shared his jockey’s delight.

“I am thrilled for him (McDonald) and for all the group that own him,” Vela said. “He gave it a peach of a ride and I’m just delighted for him to get the accolade.”

The winning co-owner was also proud of the Karaka Million concept, which is growing in popularity with every passing year.

“I am more excited, believe it or not, about the magnificence of the night and the number of people here enjoying it,” he said.

“It’s a concept we had that was a risk, but it’s more than vindicated a lot of opinions.  A lot of people helped us and a lot of racing clubs gave up their days so this could be made a great night and there are a lot of people who deserve thanks for it.”

Long Leaf has now had 14 starts for four wins, four placings and $960,269 in prizemoney – a significant increase on his purchase price.

Runner-up The Real Beel cost $110,000 at the 2017 Premier Sale and picked up $150,000 in prizemoney today, lifting her total earnings to $182,950. She ran a close 10th in last year’s Karaka Million 2YO.

Madison County, bought for just $36,000 at the 2017 Select Sale, has earned $592,935 in his eight-start, four-win career.

Vendor Curraghmore
Purchaser BBA Ireland (Ireland)
Breeding Fastnet Rock – Frustrating
Sale Lot 173, 2017 Premier Sale, $750,000
Bred by Caradale Pty Ltd

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