The overwhelming weight of expectation sat comfortably on the powerful shoulders of Sharp ‘N’ Smart at Te Rapa where the star three-year-old produced another special performance to claim the Group 1 New Zealand Derby.
Part-owned by breeder Gerry Harvey, the son of Westbury Stud resident sire Redwood was sent out a commanding favourite and justified his short odds in style.
Off the back of a memorable effort to beat the older horses in the G1 Herbie Dyke Stakes, Team Rogerson’s Sharp ‘N’ Smart again delivered and a confident prediction he can go to another level.
“Potentially, I think he could be the best horse from New Zealand for a long time,” co-trainer Graeme Rogerson said.
Sharp ‘N’ Smart settled midfield before jockey Ryan Elliot urged him forward three wide and they took control of the Classic early in the run home.
“I said to Ryan to watch him as he can switch off as he did it in the VRC Derby, but he was still too good,” Rogerson said.
“It’s great for the team and they’ve done a good job with him because he’s not easy.”
Sharp ‘N’ Smart may be a multiple Group 1 winner, but he’s far from the finished article.
“He is just a big kid with so much to learn, as coming up the straight he was waiting, but then saw the other horses and kicked back strongly,” Elliot said.
Sharp ‘N’ Smart has now triumphed three times at the elite level following his earlier victories in the G1 Spring Champion Stakes and a trouncing of his older rivals in the Herbie Dyke.
He was also runner-up in the G1 VRC Derby in the spring and will head back to Australia in his quest for further top-flight honours.
“At this stage he will have the two runs over there, but we play each race as we get to it,” Rogerson said.
“He will run in the G1 Australian Derby and if he pulls up well he will run in the G1 Queen Elizabeth.
“I would love to take on the really good horses with him. It is a big ask a week later but the last time he was over there he ran in the Spring Champion Stakes and then travelled on the Monday night all the way to Melbourne and ran super in the Derby.”
While he has big plans this autumn, Rogerson has already set out a blueprint for Sharp ‘N’ Smart for his next preparation.
“I had a look at the spring program and he will probably kick off in one of the days at Hawke’s Bay and then head off to Melbourne and have a couple of lead-ups into the big races,” he said.
They include cracks at the G1 Caulfield Cup and the G1 Melbourne Cup and then further afield.
“I’d love to take him to Hong Kong as they have been great to me,” he said. “I think if he is alright, he will be there for the Vase in December.”
Sharp ‘N’ Smart is a true-blue Westbury product as his dam Queen Margaret is a daughter of resident sire Swiss Ace and also has an unraced two-year-old filly by Redwood.