By Ray Hickson
There was a moment a few years ago when Warwick Farm trainer Matthew Smith decided he needed to embrace the internationalisation of racing.
A look down the list of horses in his care now shows just how much he and his owners have invested in finding suitable imports with around 15 per cent carrying a European suffix and around half of those yet to race here.
One that has is the promising Attorney and he chases a hat-trick at Randwick on Saturday in the Eremein Handicap (2000m).
“We took the view a couple of years ago that we are going to get left behind unless we start getting a few of these horses,’’ Smith said.
“You have to move with the times and if you want to be competitive in the Cups, a Queen Elizabeth, Sydney Cup you need a horse that can stay the trip.
“Either you don’t have a go at those races or you buy horses to run in them.
“There‘s no doubt the majority take a little time, but Fierce Impact got the idea pretty quick and won a Group 3, Invictus Prince ran second to Winx in his second preparation.’’
Attorney appears to have taken to Australian racing in style with wins at Newcastle first-up and a dominant Canterbury win over 1900m earlier this month.
It was that race Smith had pencilled in as a danger race, given the tighter circuit, but he came through with flying colours running the fastest last 600m of the race in 36.40 and his final 200m was over a length quicker than anything else in 12.11 (Punter's Intelligence).
“He improved off that first run and you like to see that,’’ Smith said.
“I liked that he relaxed and did everything right, Jason (Collett) rode him very well in fairness, but he did things right and finished off strong.’’
Smith is happy to sacrifice one kilogram to retain Collett in the saddle and he’ll ride the four-year-old at 54kg.
The trainer understands why Attorney is favourite, $2.20 with TAB on Thursday, to keep his Australian winning streak going but says it’s still a class rise for the horse.
“I’m under no allusions about him stepping up in grade but it was either go to Brisbane or stay here,’’ he said.
“At the end of the day it’s not a big deal, the horse is going well so we stay here and see what happens.
“I don’t know if he can handle those horses yet, I’m sure in time he will as he gets more racing under his belt. It’s a nice time for a throw at the stumps, he’s in good form and great shape and the 2000m is perfect.’’’
In the coming weeks we’ll see more of Smith’s newer imports step out, along with some of the proven ones, in races and trials.
Attorney wins at Canterbury on July 3
They aren't easy to find and he says knowledge and insight of Terry Henderson and OTI Racing is a real asset to have when it comes to sourcing them.
Names such as German St Leger winner Sweet Thomas, the highest profile of his imports, Densy, Penshurst and Milk Man will soon become familiar.
“We’ve got some pretty good ones amongst them,’’ he said.
“They will come through the system, a lot are acclimatising but they’ll start popping up. Densy isn’t far away, Penshurst is going to step out next week, Monreal is back in the paddock and Dark Acclaim has been in and gone out again.
“We’ve been able to identify some nice horses and we’ve been able to pluck them out of Germany, France and England and so on. Terry and OTI have been invaluable in locating these horses and it's fantastic to have their support.
“It’s been really good for the stable, it gives you another option. Not only do you have yearlings and three-year-olds you have these older horses to compete in longer races.’’