By Jordan Gerrans
All four of the exclusive invites for the inaugural $250,000 Group 1 The Rising Sun have been handed out, with classy Kiwi Krug the latest to confirm his place at Albion Park later this year.
Top New Zealand trainer Cran Dalgety (pictured) has this week accepted the invitation from Racing Queensland and the Albion Park Harness Racing Club.
Krug accepted the three-year-old wildcard spot for the first running of the new feature race, alongside Expensive Ego, who was the first to accept an invitation for the race with the winner of the Group 1 NSW derby, Patsbeachstorm, and one of the leading NZ four-year-olds, Copy That, following suit.
Krug has been a star across the ditch, winning two Derby races, including the New Zealand Derby earlier this month.
“All the three-year-olds in Australia and New Zealand, to get down to the last couple and get a nod for an invite, it is a privilege,” Dalgety, a third generation horse trainer, said.
“Our racing schedule for three-year-olds is pretty tame after June, so the main thing for us was to have a go at a couple of other Derbys – being the Melbourne and Queensland ones for us.
“There is a little bit on the plate for us to consider with the horse.”
To kick-start three action-packed weeks at Albion Park over the TAB Queensland Constellations, the Group 1 Rising Sun – the richest race in the Southern Hemisphere for three and four-year-old pacers – will make its highly anticipated debut on July 10.
Dalgety, who has had many a quality pacer over the journey, rates colt Krug as one of his best ever to be in his stable.
He has almost $500,000 in prizemoney already, with 13 victories and five minor placings recorded from just 20 career starts.
“It is exciting for all concerned and being really new,” Dalgety said of the new Group 1 Rising Sun.
“Some of the four-year-olds will be strong, when you think about horses like Expensive Ego being there, he is going really good and will be at the top of the three when it comes to favouritism.
“Drawing one or two for us, that is a major, major bonus for us, being on the rail at Albion Park.”
Dalgety was busy trialling new two-year-olds this week and declared while his resume shows he is one of the premier New Zealand trainers, he has downsized in terms of his numbers in his stable in recent years.
Much of Krug’s ownership group have been in the harness racing game for many years and the experienced horseman cannot wait to get the impressive youngster across to Australia.
Dalgety is arguably best known for his association with champion pacer Christen Me earlier in his career.
“It is always a challenge to bring horses over to Australia, but I have had my practice over the years,” Dalgety said.
“I think I brought my first horse over to Queensland in 1996, winning the Queensland Pacing Championships with a horse called Desperate Comet, which was my first major travelling horse.
“I think we would have won around 100 races in Australia; we have had some luck with Victoria Cups, Miracle Miles and Breeders Crowns - we have had a bit of practice and been fortunate.”
Racing Queensland Senior Harness Racing Manager David Brick said the first ever The Rising Sun is shaping up as an exciting field.
“We are looking forward to seeing them at Albion Park later this year,” Brick said.
“We are rapt that Krug and Cran Dalgety have accepted this invitation as he has shown he is the best three-year-old in New Zealand over the last few months in the two derby races he won.”
The TAB has Expensive Ego rated as the favourite for the first ever Rising Sun, locked in at $3, with Copy That on the next line of betting at $6 and Krug a $11 chance.
In total, the Constellations will feature 11 Group 1s with the addition of the Rising Sun and The Golden Girl.