Three times a charm for Te Akau Racing

Racing Desk
29 October 2017

The powerful Te Akau Racing operation was well in winning mode on the weekend as they notched a successful treble including stakes success for promising mare Grazia in the Listed Christchurch Casino Spring Classic at Riccarton.

Given a beautiful run in transit, Graziadashed clear for an impressive victory in in a race that team Te Akau had targeted at the end of her previous campaign where she had won three of her last five starts.

Grazia Photo: Race Images South

Beaten a nose on the same course earlier in October, after resuming there with a close fifth to stable-mate Imperium in September, both times over a mile, the step up in distance and carrying minimum weight (53kgs) 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 about the mile to slide forward on her, it was very important. He got her into a lovely rhythm and she quickened up super.”

Given a beautiful ride by apprentice Sam Weatherley, Grazia travelled sweetly in fourth, ranged ominously outside the leaders inside the 600m and ran away to win by three and a half lengths.

It was Weatherley’s second victory for team Te Akau after notching his inaugural success aboard flying two-year-old filly Avantage earlier in the day.

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 2YO 800 metre event. Catching the start well to lead, Avantage travelled best throughout and distanced her rivals to win untouched by six lengths.

“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 in January this year for $210,000 at the NZB Premier Yearling Sale, from the Oaks Stud draft.

“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 Two Thousand Guineas at Riccarton next month.

The brother to noted Group One performer Diademe needed a win to cement a start in the Guineas and 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 stable-mate Te Akau Shark at $7. – NZ Racing Desk

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