He has a Scandinavian-inspired name, has raced in England and Ireland and now Norway is set to make his Australian debut for a locally-based New Zealander.
A week after winning the Ajax Stakes with former Aidan O’Brien horse Imaging, premier Sydney trainer Chris Waller will be looking to repeat the performance with new recruit Norway.
Like Imaging, Norway started his career in Ireland and will be looking to make an impact in Australia, starting in Saturday’s Group One Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill.
Scratched from the Coolmore Classic meeting last week because of the heavy track, Norway will take his place alongside stablemates Danzdanzdance, Youngstar and Verry Elleegant.
Markets rate him the outsider of the seven-horse field at $23 but Waller thinks otherwise.
“I had him in the George Ryder but I thought he might have struggled to show enough speed to be a top-three chance,” Waller said.
“But I think he is a genuine top three Ranvet chance if we’ve got him near his best.
“It is never easy when you take over a horse like this, running them first-up, not only over 2000 metres but also in a Group One.
“He is a very impressive type and he’s been running some very good races in Europe.”
A Group Two winner in Ireland, the bulk of Norway’s recent form has been over distances around 2400-metres.
He is one of two horses adding an international flavour to the Ranvet along with the William Haggas-trained $2.40 favourite Addeybb.
Addeybb has form through some of Europe’s most outstanding horses, defeating subsequent Group One Mackinnon Stakes winner Magic Wand in June and finishing second to Magical in last year’s Champion Stakes.
The James Cummings-trained Avilius brings more familiar form lines.
He returns to Sydney to defend his Ranvet crown after getting a long way back in the Australian Cup at Flemington and making late headway for fifth.
He filled the same position in the Australian Cup 12 months earlier as a beaten favourite before trouncing his Ranvet rivals on a heavy track.
With Rosehill in the soft range on Friday, jockey Hugh Bowman says Avilius will get similar conditions and can go back-to-back.
“I remember last year he was favourite in the Australian Cup and he was disappointing,” Bowman said.
“He then came back up to the Ranvet and he won convincingly on rain-affected ground and he’s going to get the same circumstances this year.”
Avilius ($3.60) and Verry Elleegant ($4.40) are the only locals given a serious chance to upstage Addeybb with the other four runners at double figures.
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au