Bear On The Loose hunting another Sydney success

Sourcing quality middle-distance and staying horses from overseas isn't quite taking over from the annual replenishing of stock at the yearling sales, but it is becoming an increasingly important focus for the major training operations.

Of the 27 horses paid up for the 1800m races at Randwick on Saturday, 13 started their careers in either Europe or New Zealand before finding their way to Australia, and another four were bred internationally but have raced exclusively here.

While overseas raiders have been plundering longer distance features for some time, they seem to be an expanding presence in the bread-and-butter races, such as the two Benchmark events on Saturday.

Tulloch Lodge will be represented in both, former New Zealander I'mintown (NZ) lining up in the James Squire Handicap (1800m) and recent stable addition Bear On The Loose (Ire) in the Toyota Forklifts Handicap (1800m).

Adrian Bott, training partner of Gai Waterhouse, says bolstering the stable's stocks with horses from other jurisdictions is integral to remaining competitive in the longer distance races.

"No doubt, you need to have a balance between European and Australian-bred horses," Bott said. "Particularly going forward to those staying races, they [imported horses] are quite dominant in terms of the volume of horses that are here, but also the quality that comes down.

"You're getting to that point now where if you're wanting to be competitive in that part of the industry, that's where it's at at present."

I'mintown (NZ) was Group 3 placed in New Zealand before kicking off his local career with a Rosehill victory in November. His two runs this time in have both been strong without winning and he will have his impost reduced to 60kg after the two-kilo claim of apprentice Amy Mclucas.

Bear On The Loose (Ire) also made a victorious debut in Australia when scoring on a heavy track at Rosehill last month. Bott says that a positive start, for former Europeans in particular, is generally a good sign as they tend to improve at their second preparations due to the time it takes to acclimatise.

"He was excellent on his Australian debut and it's not easy for those Europeans having their first run over here. It usually takes a bit of time to adapt," Bott said.

"We have been pretty patient with him. I thought there was plenty of merit to the run and he should improve off the back of it.

"I would have liked to see him start stretching out in trip, but he is remaining at the 1800 metres — there weren't a lot of options around for him.

"He is a nice horse, he has proven that first-up, and hopefully we'll see a bit more from him."

Nash Rawiller stays aboard Bear On The Loose (Ire), who has been strongly backed into even-money favouritism, while I'mintown (NZ) is a $2.90 second pick for his assignment.