Auckland Cup winner Who Shot Thebarman has been transferred to leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller.
The five-year-old, who has done all his racing from Mark Oulaghan's stable at Awapuni, has been in Australia for about a week.
He is raced by the O'Leary brothers - Dan, Michael, Shaun and Humphrey - who believe that basing Who Shot Thebarman in Australia would give the him his best chance of having a crack at the Melbourne Cup.
''There are just so many options over there,'' Dan O'Leary said. ''If you go back through the records, there have been very few horses [in recent years] who have been competitive in the Melbourne Cup from New Zealand.
''I know the New Zealand horses performed well in Sydney in the autumn but it's very hard getting them ready for the Melbourne carnival here, especially if we have a wet spring.
''You are on the back foot and the opposition over there now is so good, that you can't be on the back foot.
''The Melbourne Cup has gone to a new level and the Kiwi stayers just turning up and winning the race - those days have gone.'' O'Leary said. ''You need your horse to be settled and acclimatised and at the top of their game.
''It's not even easy to make the field and Who Shot Thebarman might still struggle to get in this year.
''But there are so many other good races over there in the spring, races like the Geelong Cup, Werribee Cup, Moonee Valley Cup and the Saab Quality, and if you missed getting in the Melbourne Cup, you can look at the Sandown Classic.
''There are millions of dollars in potential earnings, while the options for him here [New Zealand] are limited.
''He would be carrying 59-60kg in a lot of his races and the New Zealand Cup, Wellington Cup and Auckland Cup are probably the only races that fall into his category.
''The Auckland Cup is worth good money but it's hard to hinge a preparation around one race, when anything can happen.''
Waller, who began his career in New Zealand, has become the dominant trainer in Sydney and also has a stable in Melbourne. He has won 200 races this season, 165 of them at metropolitan meetings, and his team has earned more than A$21 million in stakes. ''His record is phenomenal,'' O'Leary said.
''But we not decrying Mark [Oulaghan] at all. If the horse runs poorly [in Australia] he will come home quickly and go back to Mark, definitely.''
Oulaghan rates Who Shot Thebarman as the best he has trained and had not been expecting to lose the horse. ''It came as a bolt out of the blue but I guess it happens,'' he said yesterday.
''We have hardly even touched the surface with with him, in a way, and being by Yamanin Vital, you would think there is still a bit of improvement in him.
''You have to admit that the money is good over there [Australia] but it's not bad here for the right horse.
''He could have gone to a couple of the Hastings races and then look at the New Zealand Cup and later on the Auckland Cup again.''
Oulaghan would also have been happy to take Who Shot Thebarman to Melbourne. ''That was certainly an option. We could have given him a couple of races here and then whip him over there if we wanted to.''
Who Shot TheBarman won the Auckland Cup at just his ninth start and only a year after his race debut. He subsequently failed in the Sydney Cup but went out for a spell with a record of six wins, two seconds and a third from 10 attempts and stake earnings of $430,000.
He also won the Avondale Cup and was the runner-up in the Manawatu Cup and has had four wins and a second from six starts at 2000m or further.
- The Dominion Post
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