Avantage Scores her 4th Group One
8 Mar 2020
“Honestly, she is just so tough,” said one of the owners in Avantage (4 m Fastnet Rock – Asavant, by Zabeel) (in a tangerine Avantage cape) after the stellar mare capped an incredible Group One treble in the $200,000 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (Gr. 1, 2000m) on Auckland Cup Day (7 March) at Ellerslie.
Exuding class and courage to win 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) on 8 February at Te Rapa, a subsequent winner of the Chipping Norton Stakes (Gr. 1, 1600m) at Royal Randwick, Sydney, she stepped up with victory in the Haunui Farm WFA Group One Classic (Gr. 1, 1600m) on 22 February at Otaki, and never flinched at 2000 metres.
Bred to get the trip, she was tucked away on the rail by Opie Bosson, travelling sixth at the halfway mark, but once presented into the clear on straightening she exploded to lead at the 200m and kept extending clear.
Winning by one and a quarter lengths, in 2:02.9, the money continued to roll in for Avantage to pay $2.40 & $1.40 on the NZ TAB tote.
“Just knowing her and what she’s like in her track work and races is a huge help,” Bosson said. “She switches off, never pulled in her life, and that’s the key to her getting 2000 metres. I was very confident when I got out.
“All the credit goes back to David Ellis buying this type of horse at the sales, and like this mare and Melody Belle (winner of the Bonecrusher last year), Probabeel is another of these types that can step up in distance too.”
Incredible as it may seem, trainer Jamie Richards has recorded Group One doubles a week apart, after Probabeel (Savabeel) and Te Akau Shark (Rip Van Winkle) shook Randwick, and Cool Aza Beel (Savabeel) and Avantage dominated at Ellerslie.
“She’s tough isn’t she,” Richards said. “We’ve always spoken about her constitution and strength and that’s what she is, she’s a racehorse, and aided by a lovely ride. Everybody says that Opie is a great rider, but you’ve only got to watch him here today to see just what a freak he is.
“We’re very lucky to have a stable full of really exciting horses and I couldn’t be more proud of our team that we’ve got at home. Nicole Shalier who looks after the barn where this mare is stabled is absolutely over the moon. Mette Mosebo and Scott Lucock who look after Cool Aza Beel, and everyone takes such good care of these horses. It’s testament to their hard work and this is pretty exciting.
“These are the sorts of horses that Dave (Ellis) goes to the sales to try and buy. Two-year-olds that are going to train on to be better at three and hopefully better at four and the results are there for everybody to see. We take a lot of pride from that and a lot of hard work goes in.
“Avantage is a little bit different to Melody Belle, because she’s a great eater and has more natural strength, so she should be able to handle the back up at Te Aroha (4 April), back to a mile in the Breeders’ Stakes (Gr. 1, 1600m) which is probably her pet distance, I think.”
Commenting on 31 Group One victories in such a short career, Richards said: “It’s very satisfying. To have the support of Dave and Karyn, and Mark Walker, in Singapore, and all the great group of staff that we’ve got and our fantastic owners makes me very proud.
“It’s 30 years of hard work by Dave for us to be up there with these great results and I’m so excited for the buzz that he gets from it.”
A Champion Two-Year-Old, after victories in the Karaka Million (Restricted Listed, 1200m) and Sires’ Produce Stakes (Gr. 1, 1400m), Avantage has won $1.4 million in prize money with 10 wins from 17 starts for owners in the Te Akau Avantage Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM). She was purchased as a yearling for $210,000 by Te Akau principal David Ellis at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Sale.
“She’s now won four Group Ones, her current broodmare value would be in the millions, and the owners are having the time of their lives,” Ellis said.
“It’s hard to imagine things could go any better for her and it’s been a wonderful campaign. She just wasn’t her usual self when we took her to Sydney for two runs in the spring, but Jamie has done an incredible job with her and she’s absolutely flying. To win over 1200m, 1600m, and 2000m in the space of seven weeks is unbelievable.
“Jamie has trained 11 Group One winners this season, 31 in total, leads the premiership with 92 wins (21 buffer), over 3.6 million in prize money in New Zealand alone, 19 stakes’ wins, and an overall strike rate of 4.8. I’m incredibly proud of him and all the staff at the farm and the stables that contribute to these results. We have a fantastic team of people of around us that are getting a hell of a kick out of this, and our owners are just the best you can get.
“I’d also like to congratulate (CEO) Paul Wilcox on the way he is running this club. It’s an absolute credit to racing. He’s doing such a good job and this club is going extremely well, while the track is a credit to all the team that work here.”
On the dais, Richards said: “I’d like to thank the Mitchell family for their sponsorship of this race. Bonecrusher did so much for the sport and I grew up with memories of Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star.
“Thank you to our owners for being involved in this wonderful mare, and Opie (Bosson), he’s not bad either.”
Avantage was strapped by Trevor Stewart.
Photo credit – www.raceimages.co.nz