Gingernuts Dunks Them
4 Mar 2017
Gingernuts: a favourite biscuit of long standing in New Zealand, was joined by the equine equivalent when Gingernuts (3 g Iffraaj – Double Elle, by Generous) etched his name in to the history books as winner of the 2017 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (Gr. 1, 2400m), for a $1,000,000 stake, on Saturday 4 March at Ellerslie.
With Te Akau Gingernuts’ Syndicate owners sporting ginger caps, bearing ‘G Nuts’ on the front and ‘He’s Got the Bickies’ on the back, presented to them three days before the Derby in a Capping Ceremony, the stage was set on a beautiful Auckland afternoon.
What unfolded, following his stunning win in the Avondale Guineas (Gr. 2, 2100m) on the same course a fortnight earlier, was scenes of unrivalled jubilation at the end of a sensational ride by Opie Bosson on a horse that has ascended Everest at a hell of a rate.
Te Akau principal David Ellis, who manages the syndicate, and purchased Gingernuts as a two-year-old for $42,500 at the 2015 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale, has been buying and selling horses for thirty-five years, been involved in the Sport of Kings for even longer, but the emotion of securing the first New Zealand Derby for Te Akau was clearly evident.
“It’s a very emotional moment. It was a terrific run, I’m just so thrilled for all the team, thrilled for Jamie (Richards) and Steve (Autridge) as they’ve done a fantastic job training this horse and Opie just rode a sensational race,” Ellis said.
“It is an unbelievably happy occasion for us all.
“Jamie is a really top young guy and worked so well with Steve and it’s just a great team effort. All the team at Matamata, they all work so hard, and it’s just wonderful.”
Right from start Bosson executed a perfect ride on the second favourite. Ducking and weaving from barrier thirteen to one off the fence in seventh at the post with a lap to run, Gingernuts secured a lovely spot in a field of eighteen. He relaxed beautifully, stood the leader six lengths at the 600m, swept wide in to the home straight and once getting a sniff of victory a furlong out went in to overdrive, lengthening with powerful strides, to win easily by one-length.
Stable-mate Beaumarchais (Savabeel), closing at $126 fixed odds, also did his owners proud when running a great race for fourth in the hands of jockey Michael McNab.
Gingernuts ran the 2400 metres in 2:28.2, last 600m in a quick 33.6, and paid $5.40 & $2.10 on the tote and $5.00 & $2.00 fixed odds.
“It’s a huge buzz,” Richards said. “We didn’t know where we were before the Avondale Guineas and he came out and ran super. He’d gone home and improved, and been a really happy horse, and it really is a big thanks to the staff at home. Kris and Nicole Shailer are doing a super job, Kerry Jones, and Milou Grylls at the other barn and the quality and care that these horses get is second to none.
“So it’s a big thanks to them and to Dave (Ellis) for buying him. He wasn’t an expensive horse and there are a lot of excited owners here.
“Opie put him in a gun spot and it was a great win. He’s an exciting horse to have around and hopefully he can take the next step as an older horse and maybe towards the end of this year.”
Possible targets for Gingernuts include the $2m Australian Derby (Gr. 1, 2400m) on April 1 at Randwick, and/or the $600,000 Queensland Derby on June 10 at Eagle Farm.
“I had a second as a jockey and a second as a trainer, but it’s outstanding and (godson) Opie rode him,” said Autridge, of the Derby victory.
“He’s a horse that is easy to train, not easy to ride race day but since we’ve stepped him over ground he’s become a new horse.”
Now the winner of four races, Gingernuts won the Derby at just his seventh start.
Opie Bosson said: “Everything went to plan. I was travelling pretty well and I knew I had a lot of horse underneath me. I didn’t spend a penny throughout. He did it pretty easily in the end and he was having a bit of a gaze, so it was a good effort.”
It was the second New Zealand Derby win for Bosson, who numbered four wins on the day and included stable-mate Splurge (Savabeel) in the $100,000 Darley Plate (Gr. 3, 1200m).
“It’s good to win one (Derby) for Te Akau, they’ve been my new employers this year so to get the big results is what we need,” said Bosson, who also served his apprenticeship with Te Akau.
“It’s awesome, especially for Stevie (Autridge). He’s been my number one supporter, right from day one. If I’m in a bit of trouble, or a bit down, he’s always the first one to bring me up and cheer me up and I dedicate this one to Stevie.”
On the podium, Ellis said: “I can’t describe to you how proud I am to be the team leader of Te Akau and be up here today. To win our first Derby here at Ellerslie is a big thrill and you can’t describe what this means.
“I’d like to thank Vodafone as a company in New Zealand that everyone can be really proud of, and they’ll be making plenty of money from me today as my phone has been going fantastically.
“So many people have got such a thrill seeing this win, so to Vodafone, thank you for being in behind this race, thank you for being behind this great industry and supporting us.
“Gingernuts was one of two horses that I bought at the Ready to Run Sale two years ago. One was Hall of Fame and one was Gingernuts, both identified for me by Jamie Richards and Stephen Autridge, both now Group One winners.
“They showed me Gingernuts working up, what potential he had, and I loved him as an individual and we bought him. Karyn (Fenton-Ellis) and I syndicated him with Blair Alexander, a great friend of the family, and I’m just so thrilled for all the owners and the horse.
“Steve and Jamie have done an amazing job training him. I’d like to thank all the staff that work at Te Akau Racing, you’ve no idea how hard these young people work to have these sorts of results and Karyn and I are just so proud to be a part of it all.
“It was an unbelievable ride by Opie. He gave the horse every possible chance, had been wasting hard all day but I know a big dinner tonight will be just what is needed.
“So, thank you all very much and well done to the Auckland Racing Club – and well done to Gingernuts,” said Ellis, to enormous applause.
Accepting on behalf of the trainers, Jamie Richards said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to win this race. I know that Dave has been trying for thirty-five years to win this race and we couldn’t be happier to have done it today.
“It’s a great honour to be up here. We are very thankful to our staff for doing such an outstanding job. To Dave, thank you for buying this horse and to Dave, Karyn, and Blair for syndicating him.
“Let’s hope he has got plenty of good races left in him. He’s a very exciting talent.”
The Derby win has continued an amazing two weeks for the training partners and everyone involved with Te Akau Racing, and two wins on the day took the season tally to 63 and just one off the lead.
Gingernuts kicked things off with his Avondale Guineas’ victory, Splurge (Savabeel) won the same day, Gold Fever (Savabeel) won the prestigious Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m) last Saturday at Matamata, add in Smashing (Pins), Grazia (Savabeel), Wide Awake (Savabeel), Splurge in the Darley Plate (Gr. 3, 1200m) a race before the Derby and Gingernuts won the big one – THE BIG ONE.
Gingernuts was strapped by Wiremu Pinn.
Photo credit – www.raceimages.co.nz