We are about to find out why the biggest name in New Zealand racing has been off-limits for Australian bloodstock agents since emerging as a headline act of her generation.

Orchestral is set to make a major mark on Australian racing (Photo: Trish Dunell/NZ Racing Desk)

Not since the arrival of Sunline on our shores in the latest 1990s has a New Zealand filly captured as much attention as Orchestral ahead of her Australian debut.

It might be a huge call but it’s not as big as the one owners Colin and Helen Litt made long before Orchestral swept aside the males in a facile New Zealand Derby win in early March.

Her winning margin in the Derby was almost four lengths, giving her co-trainer Roger James a sixth win in the race.

Significantly, it was James’ first Derby since another high-class filly in Silent Achiever won in 2012 making for an obvious comparison with Orchestral, a filly he trains in partnership with Robert Wellwood.

Silent Achiever posted two of her four Group 1 wins in Australia and it is a decade since her Tancred Stakes triumph, an anniversary James hopes he can celebrate with a third Vinery Stud Stakes win with Orchestral.

Should Orchestral deliver on everything she has been made out to be in New Zealand, James will have the Litts to thank for rejecting the advances of an Australian syndicate.

“We did actually have one early in the piece from some well-known guys over there (in Australia) but obviously we didn’t take it,” Colin Litt told The Straight, without elaborating too much.

It’s probably not too hard to work out who was behind the offer after Orchestral announced herself as a filly of some promise at her first start.

Roger James
Orchestral's trainer Roger James has won six New Zealand Derbies (Photo: Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

In finishing second, Orchestral beat home Molly Bloom, a filly that has subsequently figured in a part-sale to high-profile Australian owner Ozzie Kheir and his syndicate.

“We are not contemplating selling her now. It’s been a great ride, absolutely wonderful,” Litt said.

“Obviously her first start was a brilliant effort so that sort of gave us a bit of thinking that she was something a bit out of the box.

“She’s kept building I suppose, getting better and better.”

“Obviously her first start was a brilliant effort so that sort of gave us a bit of thinking that she was something a bit out of the box." - Colin Litt

And it seems like there is no stopping the filly who cost $625,000 as a Karaka yearling who is unbeaten in four starts in 2024 and is an overwhelming favourite to extend that sequence at Rosehill on Saturday.

“It would be brilliant to win a Group 1 in Australia to add to her resume,” Litt said.

Here for the ATC Australian Oaks as well, Orchestral, also entered for the Australian Derby the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, is a daughter of champion sire Savabeel, but also brings with her a New Zealand maternal pedigree rich in Group 1 links and staying lines.

Her dam is the stakes-placed O’Reilly mare Symphonic who counts the 2009 ATC Australian Oaks heroine Daffodil as well last year’s Melbourne spring carnival Group 1 winner Atishu in her family.

To complete what will be a formidable New Zealand connection on Saturday, ex-pat jockey James McDonald will reunite with Orchestral after his only ride on the filly delivered a Karaka Millions 3YO win in January.

McDonald’s only Vinery success so far came on Verry Elleegant, who gave a small glimpse of how her career might unfold with a 2019 victory. That was the first of her 11 Group 1 wins.

From what we have seen in New Zealand, Orchestral might easily provide a similar insight at Rosehill.