A paddock accident has claimed the life of champion New Zealand sire Volksraad.
A stalwart at Windsor Park Stud, Volksraad topped the New Zealand sires' list eight times between 2001/02 and the 2009/10 season.
His progeny includes 1999 Oakleigh Plate winner Dantelah and the evergreen Sir Slick, winner of six Group One races in New Zealand.
Volksraad has sired 58 stakeswinners so far with his latest Group One winner, Distill, victorious in last month's Levin Classic.
"We have been fortunate to stand a number of champion stallions at Windsor Park and Volksraad rates among the best," Windsor Park Stud proprietor Nelson Schick said.
"His contribution to Windsor Park and the breeding industries in New Zealand and Australia has been immense and his influence looks set to continue for many years with his daughters now proving such wonderful broodmares at stud.
"We will forever be indebted to Volksraad who was not only a great stallion but a real character and we are thankful for the journey we have enjoyed with him these past 19 years."
Distill caused a boilover when he charged home for victory in the Group One Levin Classic (1600m) at Otaki near Wellington on Friday.
Distill was Group-placed as a two-year-old but was a $36.50 chance in Friday's feature for three-year-olds after unplaced runs in the Hawke's Bay Guineas and Wellington Guineas.
But trainer Roydon Bergerson had him at his best for the Levin Classic and he produced a storming finish to overhaul Randall and favourite Antonio Lombardo and win by 1-1/4 lengths.
Distill was bred by Windsor Park Stud and became the 14th Group One winner for the farm's highly successful sire Volksraad. He is a half-brother to the stakes-winning stayer Mr Tipsy.
Bergerson said he hoped Distill would start in the Group One New Zealand Derby (2400m) in March.
A sparkling track gallop has trainer John Bary buoyant about Jimmy Choux posting a fourth Group One win on Saturday.
"I'll tell you if they are bad (gallops) or if I don't fancy my chances and I'll tell you when they they are good, and the only way I can explain it is that he's gone to the next level," Bary told Sydney's Sky Sports Radio.
"Jonathan (Riddell) rode him and he was thrilled with him, as was I. It was just the kind of work that gives you extreme confidence.
"If he draws an alley for Saturday I think he's going to take all power of beating."
Jimmy Choux is being prepared for the $3 million Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 with Saturday's Group One Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings in New Zealand expected to be the four-year-old's final outing before heading to Melbourne.
Jimmy Choux, the reigning New Zealand horse of the year, turned in a pleasing first-up run when second in the Group One Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Hastings on August 27.
"He's a different horse (for) this Saturday, I'm like a kid with a new toy and I just can't wait for the gates to open," Bary said.
During a two-start Australian autumn campaign, Jimmy Choux claimed the Group One Rosehill Guineas in Sydney.
Jimmy Choux is on the third line of Cox Plate betting with TAB Sportsbet at $13.
It may be the race that stops two nations, but the Melbourne Cup didn't capture the imagination of New Zealand punters in 2011.
New Zealand TAB betting on the Melbourne Cup was $NZ7,947,932 - down 9.8 per cent on last year's record figure of $NZ8.73 million.
The continued economic recession probably didn't help, but TAB spokesman John Mitchell said the absence of any New Zealand-trained horses for possibly the first time since the 1940s was a bigger factor.
"We are apatriotic bunch and we tend to back our own, and this year there weren't any," he told NZ Newswire.
Punters may have also been put off by the high number of overseas runners whose form they may not have been familiar with.
Mitchell didn't think the recession was an issue as betting on the Rugby World Cup was high and the Cox Plate, in which New Zealand horse Jimmy Choux ran second, was the second-best ever for turnover.
Mitchell said TAB bookies were cheering outsider Red Cadeaux down the straight but he was just nosed out on the line by second favourite Dunaden, who paid $8.20.
Veteran gelding Mufhasa produced his trademark on-pace effort to claim his sixth Group One success in New Zealand on Saturday, defeating a number of Melbourne spring carnival hopefuls.
Mufhasa sat on the speed in the 1400m Group One Makfi Challenge Stakes at Hastings and kicked away in the straight to defeat multiple Group One winner Jimmy Choux by 1-3/4 lengths with Fleur De Lune another 1-1/4 lengths away third.
Queensland Oaks winner Scarlett Lady, who is being prepared for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups this spring, was doing her best work late to finish seventh after settling at the back of the field early.
Last year's Group One Victoria Derby winner Lion Tamer was having his first start since winning the Classic at Flemington 43 weeks ago and came in fourth, while favourite Wall Street finished 11th.
Mufhasa, who races as King Mufhasa in Australia, was returning from a spell and notched his sixth victory at the highest level and his third this year after claiming the Telegraph Handicap in January and Waikato Sprint in February.
The seven-year-old settled just off the leader Fleur De Lune during the run before taking over in the straight.
He kicked away from the classy field and had enough of a break to hold out New Zealand Derby and Rosehill Guineas winner Jimmy Choux, who produced an eye-catching first-up effort as he emerged from the pack over the final 200m and charged to the line.
Jimmy Choux is being aimed at the Cox Plate this spring.
Cox Plate favourite Jimmy Choux has further cemented his credentials with another Group One victory in New Zealand.
The Spring Classic over the Cox Plate distance of 2040 metres at Hastings was not originally on Jimmy Choux's schedule.
But after travelling midfield on the fence, Jimmy Choux set out after the leader Red Ruler and unleashed a powerful sprint inside the 200 metres to put the result beyond doubt.
Hold It Harvey rallied to run second in a dead-heat with Red Ruler, 1-3/4 lengths behind Jimmy Choux.
Trainer John Bary decided because Jimmy Choux had done so well since his Windsor Park (1600m) victory at the same track, he should have another lead-up run before running in Australasia's weight-for-age championship in three weeks.
Jimmy Choux remained the $5 Cox Plate favourite on Saturday ahead of Sunday's feature race meeting at Flemington.
Helmet, who runs in next week's Caulfield Guineas, is the Cox Plate second elect at $8 with Rekindled Interest a $10 chance ahead of Sunday's Group One Turnbull Stakes.
My Kingdom Of Fife is at $13 following his decisive victory in Saturday's Craven Plate at Randwick.
Champion mare Horlicks, the first New Zealand horse to win the Japan Cup, has died.
The grey mare, who produced Melbourne Cup winner Brew, was 28 when she died at Cambridge Stud on Wednesday.
She was buried at her owner-breeder Graham de Gruchy's Hawke's Bay property on Thursday.
Horlicks, by Three Legs out of Malt, won 17 of her 40 starts, chalking up six Group One victories in three countries.
She won both the million-dollar DB Draught Classic and the New Zealand Stakes twice.
In the spring of 1989 she won the weight-for-age Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington and followed it up three weeks later with the $3 million Japan Cup (2400m) in world record time for de Gruchy and trainers Dave and Paul O'Sullivan.
She was retired from racing the following year, with career earnings of $A3.2 million.
At stud she left 13 foals with Brew, the winner of the Melbourne Cup in 2000, the most notable.
One of her daughters, Latte, produced the 2007 AJC Australian Derby winner Fiumicino.
Trainer John Bary has changed plans with Jimmy Choux and will start the Cox Plate favourite again in New Zealand before he heads to Melbourne.
Bary had planned on going five weeks into the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 22 but the NZ Horse of the Year has done "too well" since winning the Group One Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings last Saturday.
Jimmy Choux will now start in the Group One Spring Classic (2040m) at the same venue on October 1.
"He'll be racing on the last day of the carnival at Hastings on the 1st of October," Bary said.
"I just listen to what the horse tells me and I have underestimated the fact that he's done so well since his win the other day.
"He's a year older and a year stronger and he's coping with racing so well now.
"The other thing is the race is here (at Hastings), he can be in his box then 10 minutes later he's at the track and he is back home in 10 minutes.
"It's taking nothing out of him and he's too well."
Jimmy Choux scored the fourth Group One win of his career last weekend and Bary says the entire continues to improve.
"I just can't explain it, he just keeps getting better and he's even better again than before he raced last week," he said.
After running on October 1, Jimmy Choux will be kept at home for a couple of days before he starts his trip to Melbourne.
"He'll arrive in Melbourne on the 8th of October," Bary said.
"That's tons of time (to settle in before the Cox Plate)."
"I'm very confident with him, I think I've got a real good racehorse. I can't control what the other horses are doing and I can't control the running of the race but I think this horse is super well and is right where I want him."
There will be plenty of interest across the Tasman on Saturday with seven Group One winners set to clash in the Makfi Challenge Stakes at Hastings.
Rosehill Guineas winner Jimmy Choux, Victoria Derby hero Lion Tamer and Queensland Oaks victor Scarlett Lady will be among a host of stars in the 1400m weight-for-age feature, formerly known as the Mudgway Stakes.
The trio had mixed luck at the draw with Lion Tamer snaring barrier one while Jimmy Choux and Scarlett Lady drew 10 and 12 respectively.
(King) Mufhasa, Wall Street, Booming and Fritzy Boy are the other Group One winners in the field of 13.
Several of the big guns will be making their seasonal returns ahead of spring campaigns in Melbourne.
Both Jimmy Choux ($16) and Scarlett Lady ($21) are prominent in early markets for the Cox Plate while Scarlett Lady is the $11 second favourite for the Caulfield Cup with Lion Tamer a $17 chance.
Trainer John Bary has no problems taking the unconventional path to the Cox Plate, leaving Jimmy Choux without a race for five weeks going into the weight-for-age championship.
Jimmy Choux proved he had retained his three-year-old ability at Hastings on Saturday, out-finishing the six-time Group One winning sprinter Mufhasa to take the Windsor Park Plate (1600m).
Most Australasian horses targeting the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 22 will be having at least one more race before contesting the high pressure race but Bary doesn't think Jimmy Choux needs it.
"I won't race a horse every two weeks just because everyone else does," Bary said.
"If he needed to race every two weeks he would, but he's not the type of horse that does. He runs well when he's fit and fresh and I don't want to overcook him."
Jimmy Choux shortened to $5 favouritism on the New Zealand TAB for the Cox Plate and tightened to $7.50 second favourite with TAB Sportsbet in Australia behind Whobegotyou at $7.
"I'm not too worried about any other horses. I can't control anyone else's horse, all I can do is have my own horse fit and ready."
Regular jockey Jonathan Riddell will retain the ride for the Cox Plate.
Bary said Jimmy Choux was also likely to contest the Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 5 and the Hong Kong Mile (1600m) on International day at Sha Tin in December this campaign.
Mufhasa made a top effort to add the Windsor Park Plate to the Challenge Stakes but found Jimmy Choux a little too good.
Jimmy Choux ran second in the Challenge Stakes with Lion Tamer franking the form of that race with his win in Saturday's Underwood Stakes at Caulfield.
Hold It Harvey made good ground along the fence at Hastings to take third ahead of last year's Emirates Stakes winner Wall Street, while Booming ran on solidly for fifth.
Cups expectations are high for Queensland Oaks winner Scarlett Lady but connections are realistic about her chances in New Zealand on Saturday.
Scarlett Lady, one of the leading contenders in early betting for both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, resumes in Saturday's Group One Makfi Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Hastings which is also the carnival springbaord for Rosehill Guineas winner and Cox Plate contender Jimmy Choux.
"It is 1400 metres and if she can win at that distance I would be real happy because she's a stayer," trainer Graeme Rogerson said.
"We're looking towards the two Cups."
The winner of six of her 10 starts, Scarlett Lady will be ridden by champion apprentice James McDonald who is unbeaten on the daughter of Savabeel in six rides.
Scarlett Lady won the Listed Breeders Stakes (2000m) and Group Two Travis Stakes (2000m) in New Zealand in April before heading to Australia where she scored convincing wins in the Group Three Doomben Roses (2020m) and Group One Queensland Oaks (2400m).
"She's going well," McDonald said.
"It's only 1400 metres on Saturday so she'll get back and be running home hopefully.
"She looks good, she has put on a bit of weight and should run well fresh."
McDonald partnered Scarlett Lady in an exhibition gallop at Te Rapa on August 13 when the four-year-old mare worked with sprinter Gaston.
The 19-year-old rider, who broke the New Zealand record for most wins in a season in 2010/11, was impressed with Scarlett Lady's hitout.
"She galloped up to expectations," McDonald said.
"The other horse was galloping better but he's an open-class sprinter and she didn't have blinkers on either. But she picked up well and she felt great."
Scarlett Lady's first spring start in Australia is scheduled to be the Group One Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 17.
Saturday's race, formerly the Mudgway Stakes, is also the spring kick-off point for Jimmy Choux who is being aimed at the Cox Plate by trainer John Bary.
Jimmy Choux missed a scheduled barrier trial last week due to the weather in New Zealand which Bary said made the four-year-old a little vulnerable first-up.
Picture: Ross Stevenson