Bought by David Ellis CNZM for just $13,000 from the NZB South Island Sale, shares in this young son of Ghibellines, bred by the highly respected Anderton family of White Robe Lodge, were rapidly snapped up – a ‘bargain buy’.
Who could have foreseen that as of November 2021, he would have won approximately 18 times his purchase price in stakes!
Markus Aurelius was a slower maturing type, and his career kicked off with two placings in February 2020 – half way through his three year old year. Early signs of his ability were obvious as, although finishing second and third, he was eye-catching late on both occasions – displaying what would become his trade-mark powerful late finish.
His owners didn’t have to wait long after that – on 11 March 2020 on his home track of Matamata, he scorched home late to post his maiden win over 1400m with stable rider Opie Bosson in the saddle.
Sent south to target NZ Cup Week spoils, Markus Aurelius was again in the winner’s circle 3 October 2020 at Riccarton, with victory in a $32,5000 Rating 65 1400m for Te Akau apprentice Chelsea Burdan.
Head to NZ Cup Day on 14 November 2020, a day awash with tangerine as the team recorded six wins on the programme, and Markus Aurelius contributed boldly to that tally taking home the $40,000 Speights’ Premier Rating 74 1600m. He powered clear late for Opie Bosson to win easily by 3.3 lengths – and so recording his third career win.
With trainer and jockey suitably impressed by Markus Aurelius’ efforts, a plan to target the prestigious $230,000 Group 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile in 2021 was hatched.
After a spell, he resumed back in the north at Te Rapa on 3 February 2021. Despite starting awkwardly, he recovered to be far too strong for his opposition in a 3.5 length domination of a Rating 74 1400m event, with Te Akau’s ‘smiling apprentice’ Joe Kamaruddin in charge – and win No.4.
Ellerslie beckoned and on Auckland Cup Day on 7 March 2021, the $50,000 Graeme Thomson Premier Rating 74 1600m saw Joe Kamaruddin and this horse again combine to deliver a three length whitewash. Returning to the Auckland Racing Club’s venue on 3 April, as a precursor to the $100,000 Group 2 Easter Stakes, he went back to back. He was all class clearing out to win a $32,500 Open Handicap 1500m, again partnered by ‘smiling Joe’ and winning by 2.3 lengths!
Sadly later in April 2021, New Zealand’s inclement autumn weather saw the $100,000 Group 2 Easter Handicap raced on Slow9 going at Ellerslie. That was the undoing of race favourite Markus Aurelius with jockey Danielle Johnson reporting to stewards that he did not cope with the track conditions.
Still the $230,000 Group 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile of 2021 remained front of mind and Markus Aurelius set sail for the south.
Held up at a vital stage, with no ‘free air’ until the 150m, his second placing in the $40,000 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile Prelude Open Hcp 1400m on 2 October should have shown observers the southern boy was back in town!! With Jason Laking in the saddle, it was clear that Markus Aurelius was primed and ready for the ‘big dance’ as he posted a bold finish and clearly had more to give.
You love seeing a plan come to fruition and that came to pass on NZ Cup Week’s middle day at Riccarton Park on 10 November. The scene was set by Summer Monsoon firstly winning the $100,000 Group 3 Stewards’ Stakes. The only concern was the wide barrier (13) but he had the maestro on board in stable rider Opie Bosson!
Fresh from winning the $500,000 Group 1 NZ 2000 Guineas on Saturday aboard Noverre, Bosson was also aboard Summer Monsoon to add the Group 3 Stewards’ Stakes to his swag. A tricky draw wasn’t about the dent his confidence and he rode Markus Aurelius perfectly – after being forced wide from the draw, he was out at the 1100m, in the lead at the 150m, and too strong at the finish!
It was the 17th running of the Coupland’s Bakeries Mile – and special to the whole Te Akau team, with Ray and Jill Coupland being very good friends of David and Karyn and the stable. The race of course had been won two years prior by the all-class Te Akau Shark.
Credit must also go to Te Akau’s southern team headed by Assistant Trainer Sam Bergerson, assisted by Lydia Truesdale and team. On a day with three starters for the stable, all three were winners, and included this Group 2 and the Group 3 Stewards’ victories.
Markus Aurelius, trained by Jamie Richards, is raced by the Te Akau Great Southern Man Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM). He has now raced 16 times, for seven wins and five placings, earning $246,771 to date.