Caliburn at Flemington (Image: Darryl Sherer)
The Australasian racing community will get its first look at Te Akau's newly acquired European stayer Caliburn this weekend when he lines-up in the Very Special Kids Pin and Win Plate (2500m) at Flemington.
The son of Camelot won two of his nine races before he was purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis.
"Earlier this year, Karyn (Fenton-Ellis, wife) and I decided to buy a European stayer and approached two of the best judges in the world, especially of European form, bloodstock agents Hubie de Burgh and Paul Moroney," Ellis said.
"And, we purchased Caliburn from Andrew Balding's Newmarket stable after consultation with Paul Moroney."
Caliburn has been based at Flemington since mid-August, in the care of Craig Thornton, with trainer Jamie Richards making regular trips to oversee his progress.
"He's a lovely horse and a really nice horse to have around," Richards said. "He hasn't done anything wrong since arriving. He's worked up nicely and I was really pleased with his jumpout there last Friday at Flemington.
"We gave him some work before the jumpout, he went a nice half-mile and certainly ran through the line very well.
"He's a couple of months between runs, but we've done as much as we can with him and he'll present in good order. Whatever he does on Saturday he will improve on."
Richards said that race-day rider Damian Lane has been galloping Caliburn with former jumps jockey Thornton riding his other work.
"I don't know a lot about the form, but Damian knows more about it and said he's very competitive," Richards said.
"We're trying to get into the better races, so hopefully we can run well and progress."
The track is currently rated a Good 4, with no rain forecast before Saturday.
"He's raced well on good tracks before, but most of the Europeans seem to enjoy a little bit of easing ground," Richards said.
Caliburn will be seen throughout the Melbourne Spring Carnival, but Richards is eyeing bigger targets in the autumn with the exciting stayer.
"He's lightly raced and I think has the makings of an ideal Auckland Cup (3200m) and Sydney Cup (3200m) horse in the autumn, and could well be a Melbourne Cup (3200m) horse for next year.
"That's the sort of quality we think this horse has got. It's incredibly exciting for our owners and staff to be bringing a horse like this back to New Zealand."