Te Akau’s Group 1 Sword Returns
14 Sep 2018
The Informant reports:
The powerful Te Akau team has had mixed fortunes in the Northland Breeders’ Stakes at Ruakaka in recent years, but it has set up bigger and better things later in the spring – a trend Jamie Richards hopes to continue on Saturday with the returning Group One winner Sword Of Osman.
Xtravagant lined up for the second start of his career in the 2015 edition of the 1200-metre race, racing erratically and finishing eighth behind The Justice League. Less than two months later he won the Gr. 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas at Riccarton by eight and a half lengths, running the 1600 metres in a dazzling 1:33.59.
The Breeders’ Stakes has been a good springboard for our three-year-olds in previous years.
A year later the tangerine and blue colours went north again, this time with the Gr. 1 Diamond Stakes winner Heroic Valour. The son of Fastnet Rock was blocked at the top of the straight but drove through a narrow gap to impressively beat The Soultaker and Wyndspelle. He later placed in the Hawke’s Bay Guineas, Barneswood Farm Stakes and New Zealand 2000 Guineas.
Top billing in this year’s running of the $70,000 race belongs to Sword Of Osman, who followed in Heroic Valour’s footsteps to win the Diamond (now Sistema) Stakes at Ellerslie in March.
“The Breeders’ Stakes has been a good springboard for our three-year-olds in previous years,” Richards told The Informant. “Hopefully this year’s race will be more like Heroic Valour than Xtravagant!
“We’re really looking forward to getting him back to the races.”
The son of Savabeel has had two trials at Te Teko, finishing fourth on both occasions behind Stella Noire and Cote D’Or.
“We’re very pleased with how he’s coming up,” Richards said. “The trials have been about trying to teach him to settle a little bit in the running.
“His work this (Tuesday) morning was particularly good. Opie (Bosson) was really pleased with how he felt.”
Sword Of Osman will be ridden on Saturday by Shafiq Rusof, who has combined with Richards to win the Foxbridge Plate and Tarzino Trophy on Melody Belle in recent weeks.
“He’s riding extremely well at the moment,” Richards said.
The New Zealand 2000 Guineas on November 10 is the main spring target for Sword Of Osman, with his lead-up path still to be confirmed.
“He’ll more than likely head towards the Hawke’s Bay Guineas (October 6), but we’ll just take it one race at a time,” Richards said. “There’s also the option of sending him down to our South Island stable.”