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Australia still on the cards for Concert Hall


Group One winner Concert Hall is still being aimed towards an Australian campaign, but her connections are just figuring out which path to take.


The Joan Egan bred and owned six-year-old has gone from strength-to-strength this campaign, winning three of her five starts and finishing runner-up in her two other assignments, culminating in victory in the Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2000m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.


But a barrier incident at New Plymouth last week where the mare parted company with jockey Danielle Johnson before scaling a fence and was ultimately caught in a kids playground, cast a shadow on her Gr.1 Australian Cup (2000m) aspirations.


Trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood are keen to test her at the highest level in Australia, but a decision on that will be made later this week.


“We are still contemplating Australia, it’s just a matter of which way we get there,” James said.


“It will be worked out this week and I intend to approach Auckland to see if we can have an exhibition gallop there and work from there.”


A former stable runner that has already jetted across the Tasman is four-win gelding London Banker.


“The owners are from Queensland and they have chosen to take him across there and race him in Queensland,” James said.


Meanwhile, a tilt at the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) still remains on the cards for Cheaperbythandivorce after her sixth-placing in the Gr.2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) at Te Rapa on Saturday.


James was slightly disappointed with the result but said there were some underlying issues.


“It was a little below my expectations, but she was troubled a bit by a seasonal complaint at the time, so maybe that had something to do with it,” he said.