Australian punters can once again look forward to welcoming the Emma-Lee and David Browne Zoo to their shores in the coming months.
David Browne was in Victoria over spring with a handful of stable runners, including Elephant (NZ) (Shocking) and Rhinoceros (NZ) (Vadamos), with the former winning the Gr.3 Sandown Stakes (1500m) and placing in the Gr.2 Feehan Stakes (1600m), and Gr.2 Crystal Mile (1600m), while the latter won three races across the Tasman in the spring.
Elephant will once again lead the charge for the stable in Australia this autumn, with the A$5 million All-Star Mile (1600m) his primary target.
The son of Shocking got his preparation off to a pleasing start in a 1050m trial at Matamata on Wednesday, running third to fellow All-Star Mile aspirant Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel).
“We just wanted to give him a quiet trial. He did everything that we wanted from him,” Browne said.
“We were really happy with his trial. We thought it was pretty similar to his trial at Taupo last spring. He did it under his own steam, and even when they slackened he settled very well, he is a more mature horse now.”
Browne is looking forward to heading back to Australia with Elephant, particularly after his efforts over spring.
“Even though he is five, that was the first decent campaign he has had,” he said.
While the All-Star Mile is Elephant’s main target, Browne said there are plenty of other targets if his gelding with the cult following doesn’t gain enough votes.
“That is the plan (All-Star Mile) and we will just see how he comes through it as to which options we go to,” Browne said.
“Even if he doesn’t make it into the All-Star Mile there are still a lot of options for him over there.
“Hopefully he gets the votes and he comes up bigger and stronger than last time. It would be outstanding.”
Elephant could have one run in New Zealand before heading to Melbourne, but Browne said they will make that decision at a later date.
“In the lead-up we are not too sure whether he will start at Te Rapa in five weeks time or whether he will go straight over to Melbourne. We are playing that by ear and seeing how he comes up,” he said.
Browne will once again head to Melbourne blindly, not knowing when he will be able to return to New Zealand with the current COVID-19 quarantine border measures in place.
However, he and wife Emma-Lee have a contingency plan if he is forced to stay in Australia longer than expected.
“It’s (border restrictions) just one of those issues at the moment. I am sure it will get better with time but there doesn’t seem to be a near fix to it at the moment,” Browne said.
“Rhinoceros may well go as well and we have some nice two-year-olds that may well head over a bit later on if I am stuck over there.”