Fastnet Rock filly Avantage entered the Karaka Million with three wins from three starts – her win in the Karaka Million in January 2018 extending her unbeaten record to four from four.
That win meant that Te Akau went back to back in the $1 million feature for two year old Karaka Sale graduates, with Melody Belle having won the year prior – both fillies were purchased by David Ellis.
Te Akau fielded five of the fourteen Karaka Million runners in 2018, running the quinella with Exceed and Excel colt Al Hasa.
In March 2018, Avantage finished a bold second to stablemate Sword of Osman in the $200,000 Group 1 Sistema Stakes at Ellerslie on Auckland Cup Day.
In her final start for the 2017-18 season she contested and won the $225,000 Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes at the end of March 2018 – ridden by Danielle Johnson, she was a comfortable winner by over four lengths, stamping her authority as the best of her age group in the country.
Avantage delivered Te Akau back to back victories in this event, with Melody Belle winning the year prior – both fillies were bought from Karaka by David Ellis.
She also became Te Akau’s fourth winner in the event following on from Maroofity, Kindacross and Melody Belle.
In August 2018, Avantage was fittingly crowned “2017/18 Champion 2YO of the Year” at the NZTR Horse of the Year Awards – she received 60 of the 61 possible votes and became Te Akau’s sixth Champion 2YO of the Year in the past 13 years. She joins Maroofity, Darci Brahma, Warhorse, War Affair and Melody Belle and all six were purchased by David Ellis.
In her first start as a 3YO, Avantage produced a scintillating effort fresh up to win the $70,000 Group 3 Hawkes’ Bay Breeders’ Gold Trail Stakes over 1200m for trainer Jamie Richards. This event is the first race of the 10-race prestigious NZB Filly of the Year contest – which Te Akau has won five times previously with Princess Coup, Shikoba, Costa Viva, Insouciant and King’s Rose.
Unfortunately a muscle injury saw her sidelined for a spell but she trialled in March 2019 before heading to campaign in Australia. Striking gold at her first attempt – she was very impressive when fighting back after being headed by the favourite to win the A$160,000 Group 3 TAB Birthday Card Stakes 3YO+ F&M 1200m at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney on 23 March 2019 with Opie Bosson aboard.
On Boxing Day fresh up, in the hands of Opie Bosson, Avantage went a huge race for second from a wide draw in the Listed Hallmark Stud Handicap, giving the winner 5kgs.
However in January 2020 she was back centre stage claiming the $250,000 Group 1 Telegraph WFA 1200m at Trentham on Wellington Cup Day – again with Opie Bosson in the saddle. In February 2020 she was seen doing her very best work late in the $200,000 Group 1 BCD Sprint WFA over 1400m when finishing fourth.
On 22 February 2020, Avantage ws again at her brilliant best when defeating stablemate Prise De Fer in the $200,000 Group 1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic over 1600m at Otaki with Danielle Johnson in the saddle. A wonderful result for the gallant mare’s first attempt over the mile.
Her first attempt at 2000m came two weeks later when, with Opie Bosson back in the saddle, she came out of dealt to her opposition in the $200,000 Group 1 Bonecrusher Stakes on 7 March 2020 – Auckland Cup Day – just as Melody Belle did the year prior.
Sadly due to New Zealand’s lockdown, Avantage could not contest the Group 1 NZ Breeders’ Stakes at Te Aroha – looking on song to play a major part in that event and add another Group 1 to her burgeoning CV – she was sadly denied the chance.
Avantage was named as a finalist for the Champion Sprinter/Miler section at the 2020 New Zealand Horse of the Year awards.
However in to the new season – she showed she was back bigger, better and even stronger. Fresh up in September 2020, Avantage scorched her rivals in the $100,000 Group 2 Valachi Downs Foxbridge Plate over 1200m – ridden by Danielle Johnson, with whom she has forged a very successful relationship.
Only bad luck – too long in the starting stalls, then being backed out to adjust a barrier blanket and sudsequently being slow away – denied Avantage her fifth career Group 1 at Hastings in the $200,000 Group 1 Tarzino Trophy in September 2020. A run full of courage saw her claim third place.
In October 2020, Avantage was in fine form, ready for further Group 1 assignments – however 12 time Group 1 winning stablemate Melody Belle had other ideas. Avantage had to settle for second behind the Queen of the Turf in both the $200,000 Group 1 Windsor Park Plate WFA 1600m and the $250,000 Group 1 Livamol Classic WFA 2040m, ridden on both occasions again by Danielle Johnson.
Not to be denied further Group 1 glory however, she was back in the elite spotlight when winning the $200,000 Sistema Railway OPN SW&P (back over 1200m) with Opie Bosson in the saddle. Her fifth Group 1 success.
Few horses have completed the Group 1 Railway/Group 1 Telegraph double but Avantage did this in January 2021. Back to defend her Telegraph title, she was seen at her sublime best to make it Group 1 win number six.
This made her the most Group 1 winning Fastnet Rock off-spring in the world.
In February 2021, she lined up in the much-antipcated ‘match race’ against the up-and-comer Levante in the $200,000 Group 1 BCD Sprint over 1400m – a race in which she had to bow to Te Akau Shark in 2020. With Opie Bosson at his brilliant best, and sadly Levante blowing the start, the path was clear for the grand mare and she won with consummate style and ease from the widest gate.
Mission accomplished – Group 1 win No.7!
It didn’t stop there however – in February 2021 she claimed yet another Group 1 scalp, her fourth in a row, as she defended her $200,000 Group 1 Otaki WFA crown. Against a small field, she showed spirit and heart to cruise home for Opie Bosson, and make it career Group 1 win No.8!
Avantage’s 8th Group 1 win was her trainer Jamie Richards’ 41st Group 1 victory – a stunning achievement in his brief career to this time.
Avantage is the only horse to have won the Group 1 quadrella in one season – Railway/Telegraph (back to back)/Waikato Sprint/Otaki WFA (back to back).
However her season success was to continue as she claimed the $200,000 Group 1 Fibre Fresh New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes at Te Rapa (deferred from Te Aroha the week prior). It was a truly gutsy performance in the hands of Danielle Johnson to secure her ninth Group 1 victory.
Avantage was purchased by David Ellis CNZM from the 2017 Karaka Premier Sale for $210,000 and has won $2,164,351 in her 27 starts to date – comprising 16 wins and nine placings. With Group race victories on both sides of the Tasman, she has only twice been out of the money.
She is raced by the Te Akau Avantage Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).