New Zealand Derby winner Habibi is set to add further strength to the Kiwi assault on the Sydney Autumn Carnival.
The winner of six of seven starts is likely to take on the country’s best three-year-old staying fillies in the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) on April 20 after a lead-up in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) on April 6.
Co-trainer Dean Logan has confirmed an Australian trip for the star filly, with the Queensland Winter Carnival the fallback option if she fails to measure up in trackwork.
“We’re thinking of either Sydney or Brisbane, but we’re leaning towards Sydney as going to Brisbane can make it difficult to have a spring campaign,” Logan told AAP in New Zealand.
A trip to the $550,000 Oaks presents a likely showdown with top Australian filly Dear Demi who backed up her Group 1 Crown Oaks win in the spring with victory in the Group 2 Surround Stakes at Warwick Farm on Saturday.
Logan admits Dear Demi presents an imposing challenge but is confident his filly can match it with her Australian counterparts.
“Dear Demi looks like a very good filly but the New Zealand form usually measures up, especially the fillies,” Logan said.
Habibi has been one of the standout gallopers in New Zealand since debuting in October.
Her only loss came in the form of a third-place finish in the Group 2 Avondale Guineas and in addition to the Derby she has also taken out the Group 2 Northern Guineas and the Group 2 Championship Stakes.
Also headed towards the Sydney Autumn Carnival is New Zealand Derby third placegetter Castlzeberg.
The Castledale gelding was bought by OTI and new trainer Danny O’Brien will prepare him for the Australian Derby.