Well-travelled five-year-old Smart Dragon has made an encouraging start to his New Zealand career.
The Italian-bred gelding is now in the care of Byerley Park trainers Bruce Wallace and Allan Peard and looked sharp when winning a recent open 1200m trial at Avondale.
“He’s a nice horse with good middle distance form in Europe and he’s showed a bit of speed in a jump-out and at the trials,” Peard said.
“He’ll have another trial shortly and then he’ll be ready to go.”
Smart Dragon won three of his first starts up to 1800m in Italy when known as Caribbean Blue and was then stakes placed up to 2150m in two of his three appearances in France.
“He was purchased by Able International to go to Hong Kong, but he had a few issues there,” Peard said.
Smart Dragon won a trial at Happy Valley from Tony Millard’s stable before he came to New Zealand.
“We first got him in October and while we’re still getting a feel for him, he’s fine now and he’s got a good temperament,” Peard said.
“Sometimes the different weather and the environment in Hong Kong can affect their joints.”
Storm Dragon is a son of the Montjeu stallion Storm Mountain, who won 11 races and was runner-up in the Gr.1 Italian Derby (2400m).
Meanwhile, stablemate Ronchi will have a new jockey when he runs in Saturday’s Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m).
“He was a bit disappointing at Hastings and he will be ridden by Sam Spratt,” Peard said. “We’re just trying something different.”
Runner-up in the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) and then fourth in the Gr.1 BCD Sprint (1400m), Ronchi was again slow out of the gate when unplaced in the Gr.1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic (1600m).