Age of Fire – Group 1 Glory
13 Jan 2018
Three-year-old Fastnet Rock (Danehill) colt Age of Fire (x Dragon’s Tail, by Galileo) gained the ultimate result in securing a stallion career with victory in the $225,000 Grant Plumbing Levin Classic (Gr. 1, 1600m) on 13 January at Trentham.
Having won the corresponding race last year with Savabeel (Zabeel) colt Hall of Fame, and previously prepared the first two-year-old Group one winner in the world, Heroic Valour, for Fastnet Rock, the win was another feather in the cap for Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis along with trainers Stephen Autridge & Jamie Richards.
Owned by the Te Akau 2016 Sydney Breeding Syndicate No. 2, Age of Fire was purchased by Ellis for $400,000 at the Sydney Easter Yearling Sale, from Erinvale Thoroughbreds, and with three wins, two seconds and a third from six starts, the big, strapping, colt is establishing an enviable record.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Ellis said. “When you go to the sales, you don’t buy them to win Maiden races, you buy them in the hope of winning Group One races and for this Fastnet Rock colt out of a Galileo mare to win a Group One cements his stallion career.
“Age of Fire is one of my favourite colts. He has the most beautiful temperament, is one of the best moving yearlings I’ve seen in forty years of looking at yearlings and is a beautiful example of the thoroughbred.
“When I bought this colt in Sydney, I was looking at the yearlings with Joe Walls and there were a huge number of really nice horses at the sale. But this was the one I really wanted. I knew he wouldn’t win two-year-old races, but thought he’d grow and develop into a magnificent three-year-old and he only had his first race four months ago.
“Jamie (Richards) and I went over to that sale, looked at every horse (450), decided this was the horse we wanted to take home and it’s just so satisfying for the owners and for us when our judgement is proved right.”
Age of Fire had staged an herculean effort to steal victory in the 3YO 1400 metres on Boxing Day at Ellerslie, after producing a mighty run for second to stable-mate Embellish (Savabeel) in the 2000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m), and given a patient ride by Opie Bosson he delivered with some authority.
Seventh at the 1000m, on a competitive pace, and pocketed at the 600m, Bosson had Age of Fire surging into the clear on straightening for the run home and he appeared to have two rivals on his inner covered over the final 200m.
A dominant favourite in betting, Age of Fire returned $2.50 & $1.40 on the tote, after running the mile in 1:36.6 on ground with the sting out of it (Dead5).
“Once I got him clear, geez he’s got a powerful finish on him,” said Bosson, riding the colt for the first time and claiming his fourth win in the race.
“He’s a lovely horse. He’s a big horse, but really light on his feet and that will take him along way.”
Bosson said Age of Fire had produced outstanding work over the past fortnight.
“Full credit to Jamie and Stevie, and another Group One for the tangerine so it’s really good,” he said.
Richards said the next start for Age of Fire could be the weight-for-age $400,000 Herbie Dyke Stakes (Gr. 1, 2000m) on 10 February at Te Rapa.
“He can get himself out of trouble and he’s a pretty exciting colt,” he said.
“We put these breeding syndicates together and Dave (Ellis) and Karyn (Fenton-Ellis MNZM) do a magnificent job from the office at Te Akau Stud to sell all these horses. Dave picked this horse out in Sydney, paid 400k, and he’s worth a lot more after today.”
“This horse was bred by Michael Kirwan, from Coolmore Stud in Australia, and I told him four months ago that Age of Fire was a serious horse in the making and would have no trouble winning group races. He’s an absolute dude.,” said David Ellis.
“He is a great looking colt by a Champion sire and from a daughter of the Champion stallion Galileo, has a very strong influence of Northern Dancer in his pedigree, and the further he goes the better he will be. I thought he was suspect today over 1600m, because already he is looking for 2000 metres. But, wait for the Derby. I think you will see a proper horse then.
“I know he was beaten by a really top colt, Embellish, in the 2000 Guineas, but I’m so excited that he got his day in the sun because he is a genuinely good colt that really deserves it.
“Dan Miller does most of the work with him and he’s been telling me for a long time just what a serious racehorse he is. And, as usual Dan is one-hundred percent right. He’s from a barn that Kris Shalier is in charge of, and you know when Kris looks after them that everything is right. He’s a real horseman and was a good trainer in his own right.
“Steve (Autridge) and Jamie (Richards) have done a superb job. The horse had a seven week spell after the 2000 Guineas and they had him ready to win fresh-up at Ellerslie. He’s come on again to win here and he gave young Jamie his eleventh Group One winner. A lot of trainers go their entire career and never win a Group One, so it’s incredible when you think he’s only had his licence for two full seasons. He and Steve are a great team with the best crew supporting them you could ask for.
“Again it was a great performance by our stable rider Opie Bosson. Gee, when it comes to the Group Ones he’s just in a league of his own and I loved the way that he got down and really rode the colt out. He’s got such beautiful balance and I’m so proud to have him in our team.”
Ellis said he cannot wait for the New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sales Series to begin on 28 January at Karaka.
“I think that Jamie has also developed a very good eye for a horse too,” Ellis said. “We’ve been out inspecting yearlings every day and we’re looking to buy the next Embellish, the next Age of Fire, and we’re also really excited because we’ve got seven of the top nineteen in the Order of Entry for the Karaka Million (Jan. 27 at Ellerslie) and I would doubt that has been done before.
Age of Fire was strapped by Mason Stevens.
Photo credit – www.raceimages.co.nz