The powerful Te Akau Racing operation notched an impressive winning treble yesterday including stakes success for promising mare Grazia in the Listed Christchurch Casino Spring Classic at Riccarton.
Given a beautiful run in transit, Grazia dashed clear to win by three and a half lengths. Team Te Akau had targeted the race since the end of her previous campaign, where she had won three of her last five starts.
Beaten a nose on the same course earlier in October, after resuming there with a close fifth to stablemate Imperium in September, both times over a mile, the step up in distance and carrying minimum weight (53kg) were key components in the success.
“We thought she would have won a race by now, down here, but she’s been held up by wet tracks and other bits and pieces,” co-trainer Jamie Richards said.
“We sent her down for this stakes race and it’s worked out really well. I thought Sam Weatherley made the right decision to slide forward on her, it was very important. He got her into a lovely rhythm and she quickened up superbly.”
It was Weatherley’s second victory of the day in the Te Akau colours, having earlier won on the flying two-year-old filly Avantage.
An impressive debut winner on the course earlier in the month, Avantage had no problem making it two from two in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series 800-metre event.
“I was absolutely thrilled because the owners of Avantage turned down $750,000 for her, after she won her first race,” said Te Akau principal David Ellis, who purchased the filly at Karaka in January this year for $210,000.
“To turn down that sort of money showed what good sports they are. She was a foal share with Coolmore Stud and Southlander Willy Calder, and when Opie (Bosson) rode her at the trials he told us she was the real deal. She’s a Fastnet Rock filly out of a Zabeel mare and they just keep getting better.”
The flying filly will now take aim at the Listed Welcome Stakes on 18 November, a race that the stable has compiled a powerful record in with a roll of honour that includes Sassy ‘N’ Smart, Bespoke, Encosta Diablo and Maroofity.
Smart three-year-old Embellish closed out Te Akau’s day when he delivered an emphatic performance against the older horses at Trentham to establish himself as the outright favourite for the Gr. 1 Al Basti Equiworld 2000 Guineas at Riccarton next month.
The brother to Group One winner Diademe needed a win to cement a start in the Guineas, and he couldn’t have been more impressive as he dashed away in the run home to win comfortably in the hands of leading rider Opie Bosson.
“Wasn’t that a beautiful Opie Bosson ride?” commented Ellis. “He’s a pretty exciting colt and will now travel on down to Riccarton on Sunday and join the team there.
“We bought this horse to hopefully stand at stud one day and he needs to win a classic race like the 2000 Guineas to pull it off.”
TAB bookmakers reacted to the win by shortening the Savabeel colt into outright favourite at $4 on the fixed odds market for the 2000 Guineas, ahead of stablemate Te Akau Shark at $7.