Through Irish Eyes (NZ) Heads Karaka Trifecta in VRC St Leger

27 April 2021

Karaka graduates trifecta Sunday’s A$200,000 Listed VRC St Leger (2800m). Photo: VRC

The class and stamina of three-year-olds bred and sold in New Zealand has repeatedly shone through on the biggest stages in Australia this season, and Sunday’s A$200,000 Listed VRC St Leger (2800m) continued that theme. 

Through Irish Eyes (NZ) (Tavistock), Salto Angel (NZ) (Sacred Falls) and Favreau (NZ) (Tavistock) filled the first three placings in the Flemington feature, following on from the superb win by Johnny Get Angry (NZ) (Tavistock) in the Group One Victorian Derby (2500m) in the spring, then the all-Karaka trifecta of Explosive Jack (NZ) (Jakkalberry), Young Werther (NZ) (Tavistock) and previous Group One winner Lion’s Roar (NZ) (Contributer) in the Group One Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick earlier this month.

The results speak for themselves, and New Zealand is an unmatched source of three-year-old staying talent in Australia.

Through Irish Eyes was bred by Jonathan Munz’s GSA Bloodstock and was a $150,000 purchase from Henley Park’s draft in Book 1 of Karaka 2019. His six starts to date have produced two wins and three placings, earning A$176,700 in stakes for an ownership group that includes former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

After settling in fifth place for most of Sunday’s St Leger, Through Irish Eyes began to roll forward a long way from home. He surged to the lead early in the home straight, then lost concentration and began to wander around in front.

His fellow New Zealand-bred Karaka graduates tried hard to run him down through the last 150 metres, but Through Irish Eyes and jockey Mark Zahra held them at bay and won by a length.

Explosive Jack’s Australian Derby triumph has already delivered Derby success for a Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Karaka graduate this season, but the leading training partnership now have their eyes on either the Group One South Australian Derby (2500m) at Morphettville on May 8, or the Group One Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm a month later for Through Irish Eyes.

“He’s just a really, really nice staying horse,” Eustace said. “He’s still learning his craft, and he had a bit of a wander around after he hit the front today. Once the penny drops, he’s going to continue to progress with racing.

“He’s had a pretty tough life. He had colic surgery as a young horse, and he’s actually quite lucky to be alive and racing.

“There’s a great team behind the horse, guys like Rod Lyons and also Steve Hansen over in New Zealand.

“This horse will push on from here, and we’ll see how far he gets. We’ll look at the South Australian and Queensland Derbies. Being only 13 days away from Adelaide and having to drop back in distance to a mile and a half, he might just want a touch of freshening up, so we might bypass Adelaide and look at Queensland.”

Runner-up Salto Angel was a $130,000 purchase from Book 1 of Karaka 2019. She is still a maiden but has placed in seven of her 11 starts, including the Group One VRC Oaks (2500m) and Group Three Ethereal Stakes (2000m). She has earned A$299,250.

The third placegetter Favreau was bought for $230,000 from Book 1 of Karaka 2019. He has recorded two wins and two placings from 11 starts to date, along with a fourth in the Group Two Tulloch Stakes (2000m) and sixth in the Australian Derby.


Henley Park


Darren Weir Racing (Victoria)


Tavistock – Zapurple


Lot 538, Karaka 2019 Book 1, $150,000

Bred by

GSA Bloodstock