Sharp ‘N’ Smart (NZ) Extends NZB’s Horse of the Year Reign

11 September 2023

A Karaka graduate has been named New Zealand’s Horse of the Year for the ninth season in succession, with Sharp ‘N’ Smart (NZ) (Redwood) claiming the coveted title in Auckland on Sunday evening.

Sharp  N Smart

An elite three-year-old on both sides of the Tasman in the 2022-23 season, Sharp ‘N’ Smart has put his name alongside the New Zealand Bloodstock-sourced back-to-back winners Mongolian Khan (Holy Roman Emperor) in 2015 and 2016, Bonneval (NZ) (Makfi) in 2017 and 2018, Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands) in 2019 and 2020, and Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel) in 2021 and 2022.

Sharp ‘N’ Smart won the Horse of the Year title in one of the tightest votes in recent memory, earning 24 votes to edge out the top-class sprinting mare Imperatriz (I Am Invincible), who received 22 votes.

Sharp ‘N’ Smart was bred by Westbury Stud owner Gerry Harvey and was offered in the Westbury draft in Book 2 of Karaka 2021, where Rogerson Bloodstock secured him for $55,000. He returned to Karaka later that year for the Ready to Run Sale, where he was passed in with a $90,000 reserve.

His extraordinary three-year-old season featured eight starts for five wins, two seconds, a fourth and more than $3m in prize-money.

Sharp ‘N’ Smart began with three straight wins in the spring, winning first-up at Ruakaka before heading to Sydney and adding the Group Three Gloaming Stakes (1600m) and the Group One Spring Champion Stakes (2000m). Just seven days after winning the Spring Champion, he backed up into the Group One Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington and finished a gallant second.

He continued to go from strength to strength through the summer months, placing in the Group One Thorndon Mile (1600m) before beating the older horses at weight-for-age in the Group One Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa. He then returned to his own age group and completed a treble of Group One successes for the season in the New Zealand Derby (2400m). A heavy track brought him unstuck in his final start of the season in the Group One Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick, but he still ran a brave and close fourth.

Sharp ‘N’ Smart’s stellar season also earned him the accolade of Champion Three-Year-Old, beating out an exceptional crop that featured three other trans-Tasman Group One winners – Legarto (NZ) (Proisir), Prowess (NZ) (Proisir) and Pennyweka (NZ) (Satono Aladdin).

Sharp ‘N’ Smart is trained by Team Rogerson and is owned by Graeme Rogerson, Gerry Harvey, Merv and Meg Butterworth, Todd Bawden, Craig Leishman and Martin Waddy.

Sharp ‘N’ Smart’s two awards highlighted a big night for Karaka graduates, who came away with a total of five accolades.

Powerhouse syndicators Te Akau Racing won Champion Two-Year-Old honours for the seventh year in a row, this time with Tokyo Tycoon (NZ) (Satono Aladdin). Bought by David Ellis for $125,000 from Book 1 of Karaka 2022, the explosive young talent banked $648,025 in a four-win juvenile season that was headed by victories in the $1m Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) and the Group Three Matamata Slipper (1200m).

NZB Filly of the Year - Legarto 

Prowess was a dominant winner of the Champion Middle Distance Horse (1601-2200m) category, earning 40 votes. She had three starts in that distance range for three super-impressive wins – the Group Two David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa, the Group One New Zealand Stakes (2050m) at weight-for-age at Pukekohe, and the Group One Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) in Sydney.

Also the winner of the $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m), Prowess earned more than $1.3m in prize-money during her three-year-old campaign. She was a $230,000 purchase by trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood from Book 1 of Karaka 2021.

The other award-winning Karaka graduate was Legarto, who took out the prestigious New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year title. The $90,000 Karaka 2021 Book 2 purchase was an unstoppable force in three-year-old fillies’ ranks in New Zealand, scoring superb wins in the Group Three Soliloquy Stakes (1400m), the Group One New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) and the Group Two Eight Carat Classic (1600m). She later crossed the Tasman and became the first New Zealand-trained winner of the Group One Australian Guineas (1600m). The Ken and Bev Kelso-trained Legarto earned over $1m in stakes during her all-conquering season.

A popular human winner on the night was NZB's very own Director of Business Development Mike Kneebone, who was awarded the NZTR Award for Outstanding Global Achievement on the night - article to follow.