Avantage Amazing Group 1 Win No.9
18 Apr 2021
The steely resolve of Avantage (5 m Fastnet Rock – Asavant, by Zabeel) enabled victory in the $200,000 Fibre Fresh NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (Gr. 1, 1600m) on Saturday at Te Rapa.
On a day that trainer Jamie Richards established a new national record (144) for wins in a season, it was fitting that Avantage was able to notch her ninth Group One victory in the 50thrunning of such a prestigious event.
Delayed a week after racing was abandoned on 10 April at Te Aroha, the race took place through the generosity of the Waikato Racing Club and Chief Executive Butch Castles.
New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association President John Thompson said: “The race has been won by some great fillies and mares over the years and a lot of them have gone on to make a big contribute to the New Zealand Breeding industry through their progeny.
“Breeders Willie and Karen Calder reside in the South Island, and unfortunately are unable to be here, but I know the mare was conceived in Australia, came back to New Zealand and raised at the Oaks Stud, presented at Karaka, and David Ellis and his team selected her, and what a great selection.
“She puts in every time and winning her ninth Group One is fantastic. It just shows the durability of the New Zealand thoroughbred, and I’d also like to thank all the breeders over the years that have supported this race through the stallion placement scheme.”
Although ending up a $1.40 shot, the win was anything but easy for Avantage as challengers either side in the straight laid down their claims. But she drew on all her resources to hold them at bay. It was captivating and the star won out.
“Every time she heard the horses come around her she fought that little bit more,” said rider Danielle Johnson, who first won aboard the former Champion Two-Year-Old in the Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr. 1, 1400m) and now combined for four Group One victories.
“She is the horse of a lifetime for me, really. I was lucky enough to get on her as a two-year-old and developed a relationship with her, and when Opie (Bosson) has been out of the country or hasn’t been riding I’ve been able to get on her. So, it’s been a lot of luck for me.
“We were able to dictate the speed from outside the leader and I just had to sit and wait.”
On footing that remained Slow8 throughout the day, Avantage ran the 1600 metres in 1:37.3 and last 600m in 35.3.
Deputizing for son Jamie, preparing three stable runners on Championships Day at Randwick, Paul Richards said: “She worked early, but got a nice drag outside the leader and she’s just so tough.
“Danielle went a bit wider on the corner, looking for better going, and left a sitting duck but to her credit she was too good.
“The only query coming in was the rain-affected track. Physically, she was first-class. She’s very versatile and continues to get better with age, and has a great will to win.”
The winner of three from four on the course, including the BCD Sprint (Gr. 1, 1400m) in February, Avantage was purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis CNZM for $210,000 at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Sale, and her 16 wins from 27 starts have amassed $2.1 million prize money for Te Akau Avantage Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).
“I’d like to thank Fibre Fresh and Dunstan Horse Feeds for sponsoring the race,” Ellis said, when accepting the trophy on behalf of the owners. “What Dave Smith and his company put into racing in New Zealand, it’s quite incredible, and we’re very proud to say that all Avantage has ever eaten is their products and you can’t get better advertising than that.
“There have been 21 Group Ones in New Zealand this season and Avantage has won five of them, three seconds, and a third. I’d like to thank all my fellow owners in this great mare and congratulate them on their incredible success.
“It has been a truly great day for Te Akau Racing trainer Jamie Richards, winning his 15thGroup One race for the season, an incredible effort, and all our staff at the stud and the stables, including Trevor Stewart who is looking after and straps this great mare.
“Finally, I’d like to thank Danielle (Johnson) for another great ride in the tangerine.”
Chiming in from Australia, trainer Jamie Richards said: “It was a fantastic win. Tough, brave, as honest as ever, and I’m really proud of what she’s been able to achieve this season.
“I thought she was ridden very well by Danielle. She put her up in the race and while they were coming at her, she was holding and giving everything that needed to.
“It’s a fantastic effort by the mare and the team associated with her: Sam Bergerson and Nicole Shailer and the staff that look after her at the Middle Barn, and Trev (Stewart) who is there as the anchor on race day.
“She’s such a good mare and Group One win number nine, so it ranks her among the very best.”
Richards suggested that Avantage would, more than likely, head for a break. “She’s done a wonderful job, had a big season, and I can’t thank her enough for everything she’s done for the whole stable.”
Avantage was strapped by recent proud father Trevor Stewart.
Photo credit – www.raceimages.co.nz