And the Winner is …
11 Aug 2019
When all was said and done, Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards came out on top of the “Team Picks Competition” for last season.
Challenged with selecting five horses: a male and female two and three-year-old, plus one older horse, the winner-take-all prize was calculated on the highest total of prize money for the five horses throughout the season.
Richards, with $779,925, beat Te Akau apprentice Chelsea Burdan, and Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM (the previous title holder) in third.
“It was a close contest and some discrepancy, but justice prevailed and I am the winner,” said Richards, with a laugh.
“It is certainly good fun. Everyone gives each other a bit of cheek about their selections and it creates good team spirit. Everyone has their favourites. It’s a good opportunity to put their names forward and see how they perform and vindicate their judgement.
Going through his selections and the process, Richards said: “I picked Te Akau Shark as my older horse and obviously we were really excited about him. Avantage was our dominant two-year-old and we thought she would be in for a really good three-year-old year and although she had a couple of little issues she still raced very well.
“I really liked Aotea Lad as a yearling. A shorter coupled, medium sized, Savabeel that had plenty of two-year-old form in his family, so picked him as one of my two-year-olds and thankfully he did a great job. And hopefully he can come on again this season.
“Sword of Osman was my other three-year-old and he had a good season, winning the Group Two Sarten Memorial and gaining solid prize money. My two-year-old filly was Exaltation, Melody Belle’s sister, who had a little issue but here’s hoping she’ll be in for a good three-year-old season.
“All the staff take a lot of pride in the horses and, as an example, last week at the Te Teko trials it was evident that the staff had done a great job bringing the horses through the winter because they all paraded really well. They looked forward in their coats, behaved well, and, in general, all trialled well.
“It’s a credit to the staff and without the big team we’ve got it’s very hard to get horses to trials and races in such good order. They’ve done a great job through the winter and we now look forward to getting these horses out at the races.
“As Karyn decided to do last season, I have also decided there will be a “re-investment” of prize money back into this year’s pool too.”