Star Three-Year-Old Conquers Older Rivals

13 February 2023

Already proven against some of Australia’s very best three-year-olds, Karaka graduate Sharp ‘N’ Smart (NZ) (Redwood) did something special on home soil in Saturday’s $450,000 Group One Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa.

Bought for only $55,000 from Book 2 of Karaka 2021, Sharp ‘N’ Smart became only the fifth three-year-old in the last 30 years to defeat older opposition in the midsummer weight-for-age feature now known as the Herbie Dyke. From 10 starts, Sharp ‘N’ Smart has now recorded five wins and four second placings, earning more than $2.45m – almost 45 times his purchase price.

Sharp n Smart (NZ) after his win in Saturday’s $450,000 Group One Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m)
Photo: Trish Dunell

The Herbie Dyke Stakes was the second start of a new preparation for Sharp ‘N’ Smart, who shone brightly in the spring with his victory in the Group One Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick and second placing in the Victoria Derby (2500m). The gelding had kicked off with a second placing in last month’s Group One Thorndon Mile (1600m).

Little went right for Sharp ‘N’ Smart in the running on Saturday, with jockey Ryan Elliot getting posted three wide from an outside gate. Then, soon after straightening, he got into a bumping duel that cost him crucial momentum.

But his class shone through, powering home over the top of Campionessa (NZ) (Contributer) and Wild Night (NZ) (Vanbrugh) for a super-impressive win.

“He is an absolute champion, and the best thing about him is that he still has room to improve,” Elliot said. “He had a tough run at Wellington first-up, and he really tightened up well for this race.

“I thought they might punch up early, so I was able to settle back three wide with cover, as he does switch off so well. He came off the bridle early, and you have to kid a little to him, but when that horse came alongside him in the straight, he really dug in deep and went through the line very strongly.

“He is up there with the best I’ve ridden, and he has so much more to give. He is still mentally weak, so there is a lot more in store for him.”

Co-trainer and part-owner Graeme Rogerson also believes the best could be still to come for Sharp ‘N’ Smart, who is likely to have his next run in the Group One New Zealand Derby (2400m) on March 4.

“Having a horse like him makes us trainers look good,” Rogerson said. “I think he’s a freak. He can run 600 metres in 33 seconds, and he still gives when you ask him.

“He definitely thinks he’s good, and Ryan says he’s only playing with us at the moment. I can’t wait to see him when he’s fair dinkum.

“I think you could see a really good horse next spring – I’d love to take him to Hong Kong. But it’s the New Zealand Derby next.”

Karaka graduates finished first, second and third in the Herbie Dyke Stakes. Runner-up Campionessa was passed in at Karaka 2019 with a reserve of $70,000, and she has earned $320,385 in a 20-start career that has featured seven wins and seven placings.

The third-placed Wild Night, who is also a three-year-old, was bought by David Ellis for $50,000 from Book 1 of Karaka 2021. He has had eight starts for five wins, two placings and $376,890.

Vendor Karaka 2021: Westbury StudReady to Run Sale: Dormello Stud
Purchaser Karaka 2021: Rogerson Bloodstock (Waikato)
Breeding Redwood – Queen Margaret
Sale Lot 612, Karaka 2021 Book 2, $55,000Lot 255, 2021 Ready to Run Sale, Psd (Res $90,000)
Bred by G Harvey