Another Group 1 for Avantage

Date: 23 Feb 2020

Another Group 1 for Avantage

After winning the race last year with Horse of the Year Melody Belle (Commands), Avantage  (4 m Fastnet Rock - Asavant, by Zabeel) provided Te Akau with another victory in the $200,000 Haunui Farm WFA Group One Classic (1600m) on Saturday at Otaki.

What a good mare. A Champion Two-Year-Old and million dollar earner, including victory in the Karaka Million (Restricted Listed, 1200m) and Sires' Produce Stakes (Gr. 1, 1400m), Avantage won the Telegraph (Gr. 1, 1200m) in January at Trentham, before finishing strongly for fourth to stable-mate Te Akau Shark (Rip Van Winkle) in the BCD Group Sprint (Gr. 1, 1400m) a fortnight ago at Te Rapa, and was drawn to threaten from barrier one.

Vying for favouritism with stable-mate Prise De Fer (Savabeel), gunning for six on end and finishing second, Avantage secured a sweet spot three back on the inner for rider Danielle Johnson. Tracking a genuine pace and jogging along, Avantage smoked through on the inner as horses angled wider into the straight and powered up for a strong victory. 

Inside the final 200 metres, commentator Tony Lee said: “Avantage in front, the stable-mate Prise De Fer can't get her and she was brilliant at the mile. A Te Akau quinella, but Avantage too good, way too good, here, and win number nine for a mare that really gives her all.

“That's nine from sixteen and $1.3 million. She was outstanding in the Telegraph and she's been outstanding here today. Her stable-mate tried really hard but could not draw her in. And Danielle Johnson loved it too.”

Immediately after the event, racing manager Libby Richards said:

“She's so brave. Seeing her go the inside and Prise De Fer the outside, I thought they were going to fight it out and it's so exciting.

“Danielle rode her beautifully and it's an awesome team of owners that are here to celebrate. It's very exciting and very cool. (Prise De Fer) He's up to the Group One level, so he'll go on with it.”

On footing that had appeared likely to race in the slow range, but held up well to remain Dead6, Avantage ran the 1600 metres in a creditable 1:35.0 and paid $3.50 & $1.70 on the TAB tote. 

A high-class and courageous athlete, Avantage had all the right attributes to win the Telegraph, but answered a few questions for the trainer when stepping up to a mile. 

“It was a really, really good win and, gee, she deserved it,” Richards said. “She's never missed a beat this time in. Great in the Hallmark, great in the Telegraph, again at Te Rapa, when beaten by a superstar (Te Akau Shark) in the BCD Sprint after getting back and finding the line. 

“The barrier (1) obviously helped, but it was a beautiful ride by Danielle to cut the corner and save ground. You might say the result could have been reversed if Prise De Fer got the run Avantage did, but she's been good enough to win in Sydney in the autumn (Birthday Card Stakes (Gr. 3, 1200m) on Golden Slipper Day at Rosehill Gardens) and she's top-class. 

“I'm thrilled for the owners and Nicole Shalier in the middle barn where she's stabled is running a fantastic ship, and we have to be extremely pleased with the way she is going.

“Where we go from here, I'm not sure, but we'll have a team talk and work it out. She was dominant there over a mile and it certainly gives us options.”

For Richards, who leads the premiership in every facet, Avantage provided the 86thvictory this season (72 at the same stage last year) and his 14that stakes level.

Te Akau principal David Ellis purchased Avantage as yearling for $210,000 at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Sale, and the flying filly is owned by the Te Akau Avantage Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM). 

“It's bloody hard to win a Group One, let along quinella it,” Ellis said. “She's now won three Group Ones, her current broodmare value would be in the millions, and the owners are having the time of their lives. 

“Thinking back, she wasn't bred to be a two-year-old, but ended up winning five of her six starts at two and became Champion Two-Year-Old, and she's training on to be one of the best mares in New Zealand. 

“We won the race last year with Melody Belle and in the past with Darci Brahma and King's Chapel, and it's quite incredible the way the stable is going. It only goes like this when every aspect of the business is working well, and everyone that works for us is trying so hard. From the young people that may have only been with us for six months, to the more experienced staff doing such an amazing job for us, it takes everyone in the team to get this success. 

“Jamie heads the team. He's doing an outstanding job, his absolute best, and it rubs off on everyone else. I'll so proud of the way he's running it. 

“Avantage was bred by two huge supporters of Te Akau Racing, Willie and Karen Calder, in Southland, and they bred her in conjunction with Coolmore Stud. They're both great breeders in their own right. And, it continues the huge success Te Akau has had with the progeny of Fastnet Rock. He's a super sire and the horses that we've had by him over the years that have won Group Ones is remarkable. 

“And interestingly, Need I Say More, who won the Waikato Slipper (Gr. 3, 1200m) for us today at Matamata, is out of Fastnet Rock mare. He's a dual Champion Sire, a sire of sires, and one of the best in the Southern Hemisphere, for sure.”

Avantage was strapped by Trevor Stewart.

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