Ascend The Throne - Group 2 Waikato Guineas' Glory

Date: 1 Feb 2024

Ascend The Throne - Group 2 Waikato Guineas' Glory

At just his fourth start, Ascend The Throne (3 g Savabeel – Thee Achiever, by O’Reilly) was a very good winner of the $160,000 Legacy Lodge Waikato Guineas (Gr. 2, 2000m) on 31 January at Te Rapa.

After producing two notable performances on the course, Ascend The Throne had lengthened stylishly to win the Maiden 2000 metres on 10 January at Matamata, and made the step up with aplomb.

Sporting the addition of blinkers, and drawn barrier one with Opie Bosson aboard, Ascend The Throne began smartly to take up a handy position. He was in sixth place at the 1000m, tracked up camped on the leaders turning for home and kept up a defiant gallop to prevail in a close finish after reaching the lead 300m out.

“We got a beautiful run and the gaps just opened up too easily for us, really, and he got there (the lead) a bit soon and had a look around,” Bosson said.

“But he’s a very good young stayer and he’s still learning. He tends to get a bit hot and has done before, too, but he’s well behaved and he’s got a good brain.”

On footing upgraded to Good3 later in the day, Ascend The Throne ran 2000 metres in 2:05.0, last 600m in 36, and after drifting in betting to $8.50 he tightened to pay $6.90 & $2.40 on the NZ TAB tote.

“It was a good tough win and lovely ride by Opie,” said Mark Walker, who trains in partnership with Sam Bergerson.

“He got him to relax in a nice position and there’s certainly still improvement to come from this horse. He’s still very lightly raced, so we think he’s right on track towards the Derby.”

The $1 million Trackside NZ Derby (Gr. 1, 2400m) is contested on Saturday 2 March at Ellerslie. Ascend The Throne is now an $8.00 chance for the coveted event, while stable-mate What You Wish For (Embellish), who circled from last and stormed down the outside to grab an eye-catching third, is into $16.00. 

“We thought the blinkers would help him focus just that bit more and I think we saw that,” Walker added.

“He comes off a very good farm of Tony Rider’s at Milan Park and we’re having plenty of success with horses bred and prepared by them – second in the Karaka Millions 2YO last Saturday and now a Waikato Guineas' winner, plus The Perfect Pink, the Group 1 1000 Guineas winner we had for Tony. 

“They breed good, tough, horses that train on and Aromatic we bought from the Milan Park draft is a great example of that tenacity as well. 

“So, I'm really thrilled to win the Waikato Guineas and, as mentioned, there’s plenty of improvement still to come.”

Owned by Te Akau 2022 Stallion Breeding Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), Ascend The Throne was purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $575,000 at the 2022 Karaka Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Milan Park.

Ascend The Throne is by unrivalled modern day Champion Sire Savabeel (Zabeel), a Cox Plate (Gr. 1, 2040m) winning three-year-old that proved a sire sensation throughout Australasia, with whose progeny Te Akau Racing has enjoyed so much success.  In fact, no-one has bought/trained more Group One and stakes' winners by Savabeel than Te Akau.

“He’s from the best family in the stud book,” said Ellis, from the sale grounds at Karaka. “It’s a great South Island family of the Dennis brothers (Tony, Joe, Martin and Ray Dennis) and they have always bred their mares to the best available stallions.

“We rated him one of the best Savabeel colts in the sale when we bought him. We loved him. He's out of an O’Reilly mare, which is an outstanding cross, from mares by Centaine and Grosvenor, and it’s the family of our 1000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) winner The Perfect Pink.

“It’s a great family from the past and also a great current family with so many of the progeny performing well at stakes' levels.

“We’ve just finished buying for three days at the Karaka Book 1 Sale, and bought a few with the Savabeel/O’Reilly cross, so to win the Waikato Guineas with Ascend The Throne you couldn’t get better advertising for the bloodlines.

“It’s a massive thrill to finish first and third in the Waikato Guineas, and they both looked pretty good lead-up runs to the Derby.

“We’re very grateful at Waikato Thoroughbred Racing to Joan (Egan) at Legacy Lodge for her sponsorship and we’ve had a great relationship for over 25 years with the Egan family and its Greenlea Meats where we sell all our cattle from Te Akau Stud. 

“Joan was made a Life Member of the Waikato Rracing Club two years ago honouring her massive contribution to that Club and she is a great ambassador for New Zealand racing.”

Ascend The Throne is the first foal of a three-time winning O’Reilly mare, and his grand-dam The Grin (Grosvenor) won four races and became the dam of 1000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) winner The Jewel, her 11 wins netting $620,003.

Ellis also bought a half-brother, High Achiever (Pins), trained by Te Akau to win three of seven starts and displayed attributes consistent with the quality family, before injury enforced his retirement. 

Ascend The Throne carries a bloodline cross of legendary sire Sir Tristram (Sir Ivor), on sire line of Savabeel and dam line of Thee Achiever. 

Waikato Thoroughbred Racing Chairman Bruce Harvey said: “Congratulations to the owners, which includes John Elstob and Glenn Holmes on our Board of Directors, and special thanks to Joan Egan (Legacy Lodge) for her sponsorship of both this race and the Legacy Lodge Sprint. 

“It’s very important for these races to maintain their Group status that we assemble a good field and I think today we’ve done that with a highly competitive race, and it’s through the generosity of Legacy Lodge that we’re able to increase the stake which is very important for our future of stakes' racing.”

Speaking on behalf of the owners, John Elstob said: “Thank you to Mark and Sam for carrying out the plan so well with this horse and to Reece (Trumper), the racing manager, thank you for the way you look after all the Te Akau owners, we really appreciate it.

“It’s great to be involved in such a great syndicate of owners and we really look forward to the Derby.”

Ascend The Throne became the 14th domestic stakes' winner for Te Akau this season, accompanying five in Australia.

Ellis added: “We’ve just bought 29 yearlings at Karaka that will race in New Zealand and Australia, so to win the Waikato Guineas in the same week is a big thrill.”

Asecend The Throne was strapped by Manjoy Kumar. 

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