5 Win Saturday - Aotea Lad Simply Awesome

Date: 16 Apr 2023

5 Win Saturday - Aotea Lad Simply Awesome


A Group Two winning two-year-old on debut, Aotea Lad (6 g Savabeel - Corsage, by Volksraad) provided another golden moment when giving Te Akau apprentice Jessica Allen her first winning ride on Saturday at Te Rapa.

After winning in terrific fashion when resuming in the Open 1200 metres on 18 March at Tauranga, and clocking a smart (34.3) final 600m for fifth in the corresponding event on 1 April at Avondale, Aotea Lad was aided by weight relief to 54kg and appeared ideally drawn (5) to rate a top three chance in the $35,000 Open 1400 metres.

Experienced through approximately 50 trial rides, where she displayed both patience and balance, Allen (20) was introduced to racing at a timely moment by trainer Mark Walker, especially with winter approaching where weight claims are integral.



Allen commenced earlier on the programme aboard last start winning stable-mate Hero Worship (Xtravagant). As expected, the combination settled rearward over 1200 metres but wound up with a strong finish and closed late for fourth.

With that under her belt, Allen did a fine job aboard Aotea Lad, positioning three back outer, four lengths 600m, and clear early in the straight he flattened out with an undeniable finish to win easily.

“He's an experienced horse and an ideal ride for Jess, and sometimes these types of horses really appreciate a quiet young rider and just do their best for them,” Walker said.

“He's one of the stable favourites and a real gentleman. He had a float accident in the spring when heading to Christchurch for the Cup Carnival so the team nursed him back to health, and good on the owners for sticking with him.”



In the race sponsored by Traffic Management Waikato, Aotea Lad ran 1400 metres in 1:24.8, last 600m in 35.8, and paid $7.70 & $3.10 on the NZ TAB tote. 

Te Akau has given over 20 apprentices their first winning rides, including Opie Bosson, Vinnie Colgan, Troy Harris, Daniel Stackhouse, and more recently Wiremu Pinn, Jasmine Fawcett, Tegan Newman, Niranjan Parmar, and Joe Kamaruddin. 

Riding Master Noel Harris said: “Jess has had a fantastic preparation before race day riding and those involved have been patient with her.

“I think the amount of trials rides she had has helped her immensely and she's come out and shown on her first day riding that she had the necessary skills to deal with it.

“She looked comfortable and she's ended up with a winner and two fourths from three rides, so very happy with her.  She's very tidy on a horse and shows a lot of professionalism, so I'm very proud of her.”

Born and bred at Te Akau Stud and owned by Te Akau Love Life Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), Aotea Lad notched his fifth win, in addition to eight seconds and three thirds, taking earnings to $387,600. 

The dam of Aotea Lad, Corsage, was purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis CNZM as a yearling at Karaka, winning three times from 1100m - 1400m, Group One placed in the Diamond Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m), third in the Matamata Breeders' Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m), and unfortunately relegated to second in the Ray Coupland Stakes (Listed, 1400m). She was Joint Second Top Filly on the 2008-09 2YO Free Handicaps.

“I bought Corsage as a yearling for $25,000 and she was a very good racehorse and we decided to breed from her with a group of friends,” Ellis said.

“It's always a thrill to see a young apprentice win their first race and it means so much to them.  We've given so many good jockeys their first winning ride and great to see Jess continuing the tradition.

“He's stood the test of time, Aotea Lad, and he's come back in tremendous form and seems to love his racing again.

“The course management people at Te Rapa lead the field in track management and incredible with the amount of racing that they've had there just how good the track is.”

Corsage (Volksraad) is out of Spray (Entrepreneur), in turn from great race mare Seamist (Beaufort Sea), winner of 12 races including the Auckland Stakes (Gr. 1, 2000m), runner-up in both Thorndon Mile (Gr. 1, 1600m) and 1000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m), and as fine a filly as you would wish to see. 

The family has been in great form this season, with the half-sister to Aotea Lad, Safura (Almanzor) winning and finishing third in the Royal Stakes (Gr. 2, 2000m) and two-year-old Fiore Di Campo (Savabeel) recently finishing second on debut. 

Part-owner and Waikato Club Chairman John Elstob said: “She's been a great filly and breeding mare for us, Corsage, and all credit to Mark (Walker) and Te Akau for the way they've managed this horse back to full health and he's racing tremendously in this campaign.

“His preparation has been awesome and it's very exciting for all his owners.”

Aotea Lad was strapped by Carla Robertson. 


Photo credit - www.raceimages.co.nz


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