One of the north's best pacers has been lost to Australia for the summer as the exodus of talent grows.
Last season's New Zealand Free-For-All winner Gold Ace has joined the Belinda McCarthy stable and is likely to remain with the Sydney trainer until after the Interdominions there on March 2.
Trainer and co-owner Steven Reid says the move is logical as Gold Ace doesn't like standing starts and is better placed to target group one glory in Australia, beginning with the A$400,000 Victoria Cup on December 14.
"We are doing what is right for the horse and there is simply too much money over there to ignore," said Reid.
"So he will have his first start for the McCarthys in the free-for-all on Miracle Mile night and then target the group ones."
The decision is made easier for Reid by the fact he has an open-class replacement in Easy On The Eye, who is just as well suited to major races at Alexandra Park and Cambridge over the summer.
"He has the Franklin Cup on December 6 and the Flying Mile at Cambridge in early January and then we can look at the Auckland Cup in March."
The Franklin Cup was traditionally a high-class 3200m standing-start event but has been changed to a 2700m mobile and put back a week.
That will suit Easy On The Eye and his NZ Free-For-All conqueror Pembrook Benny, who would have faced tough marks had the race remained a handicap.
While they will both remain in Auckland for the summer, many of New Zealand's best pacers are set to head to Australia and not return until the Auckland Cup.
Christen Me and Terror To Love were always going to target races like next week's Miracle Mile and the Victoria Cup but the exodus will also include Mah Sish and Pass Them By, who leave Christchurch for Melbourne today.
"They will spend the summer in Melbourne along with Vulcan," says trainer Tim Butt. "They will start at Melton next week, then the Cranbourne and Victoria Cups.
"I know the pacers aren't good enough to beat those top two [Christen Me and Terror To Love] but they can make a lot of money over there."
With Fly Like An Eagle having been sold and exported to Sydney, the open-class ranks are thin and look vulnerable to attacks from the best 4-year-olds and even the elite mares.
With so many of the big names missing it wouldn't surprise to see mares like Bettor Cover Lover or Adore Me take on the boys, especially pre-Auckland Cup, while 4-year-olds like Ohoka Punter also now look open-class contenders.
The forgotten star waiting in the wings is Smolda, who could race around New Year.
While the pacing stars are heading offshore, two of trotting's biggest names are targeting the northern spoils.
Stig is being aimed at the December riches after his second in last Friday's Dominion Hcp, while import Peak is set to start at Cambridge on December 24 and Alexandra Park a week later.
Courtesy of Michael Guerin and the New Zealand Herald