Australian trainer Liam Birchley is hoping to win the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) for a third time at Ellerslie on Saturday when he lines-up Neptune’s Spear.
Birchley won the race in 2010 with Sister Havana and again in 2015 with Hardline, but the Queensland trainer believes he will be met by his sternest test in the race this weekend.
“I think this is the strongest one (Karaka Million 2YO) on paper that I have seen and competed in,” he said.
While Saturday poses a big test for his runner, Birchley believes he is just as good as his previous winners.
“He’s probably on par (with my other winners of the race), but he is a different style of horse, he’s a speed horse,” Birchley said. “That can be a double-edged sword depending on how things go upfront.”
Birchley went to $140,000 to secure the son of Super Easy out of Hallmark Stud’s 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Sale draft and said while he paid more than he wanted to for the colt at the time, he is happy he did.
“It was a little bit higher than I wanted to go, but I am actually glad I went that far, I think he is definitely a horse of the future from what he has shown me already,” Birchley said.
Birchley has formed a close association with Denny, Mark and Vicki Baker of Hallmark Stud and is staying at the Te Kauwhata farm while in New Zealand and he said Neptune’s Spear has settled in well.
“He has settled in beautifully, he worked at Ellerslie on Monday and had a little bit of a blow out at Pukekohe on Thursday morning, so all is good (heading into the race).”