Promising juvenile La Romanee has been ruled out of a tilt at the rich Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie on January 25. The Burgundy gelding was in fine form in his first preparation, winning two of his three starts, including a last start victory in the Listed Welcome Stakes (1000m) at Riccarton.
He was subsequently given a brief break after that run, however, upon his return a bone chip was found in his knee, which will require surgery. “He has got to have some minor surgery this week and then a couple of months off,” trainer Daniel Miller said. “We brought him back into work and he was actually feeling really good but just had a bit of swelling on his knee, so we got it checked out. “There is a small fragment in there that needs to come out. The vet said it’s in the top joint of the knee, so it is a lot more forgiving and if we look after him now there is no reason why he won’t come back bigger and better.”
While Miller is ruing a lost opportunity to tackle the Karaka Million, he is hoping his patience and care with La Romanee will pay dividends in the future. “It’s just a shame, it never happens to the slow ones,” he said. “But he is still growing a lot, so I think he will develop into a nice three-year-old.”
La Romanee was purchased out of Brighthill Farm’s 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 2 Yearling Sale draft for $22,500 by Miller’s father John. Miller had a breakthrough spring with his boutique team, also recording a placing in the Listed Pegasus Stakes (1000m) and victory in the Group 3 Lindauer Stewards Stakes Handicap (1200m) with Sheezallmine.
After his successful southern sojourn, Miller was forced to search for a new property to train from and he is pleased with his new Matamata base. “The property owner called me and asked if I was interested in leasing it,” Miller said. “I have got 15 boxes, a track, and paddocks, and it’s just 10 minutes out of Matamata.”
While La Romanee may be out of action, Miller is looking forward to reuniting with good mate and Australian-based jockey Michael Dee for a potential black-type tilt at Ellerslie on Boxing Day. The pair combined to win the Stewards Stakes with Sheezallmine and Miller is hoping for a repeat performance with Lavaglo in the Group 2 Ladies Mile (1600m). “He’s a top jockey and a good mate, so I will use him whenever I can,” Miller said. “He was going to be riding La Romanee, so he is a bit gutted now that he is not in. “But he’s down to ride Lavaglo in the three-year-old fillies mile race, if she makes it in the field.”