"Horse Racing Powerhouse to make Rare Winter Presence"

Date: 8 May 2020

The New Zealand Herald's Michael Guerin reports "Te Akau is looking to get the jump on rivals at it eyes the last target ....

Horse racing's big tangerine machine wants to put an exclamation mark on their stunning season.

And they may need to break an unexpected duck to do so when thoroughbred racing returns in July.

Te Akau have been the undisputed kings of New Zealand thoroughbred racing this season, winning both $1 million races on Karaka Million night, training three individual Group 1 winners in Australia, and trainer Jamie Richards is a certainty to win the national premiership for the first time on his own account.

But although they rarely have much of a winter presence, they have one target left for their record-setting season, so they will have horses back racing after the expected return date of July 3, or earlier if the date is brought forward.

Richards is 27 clear of Stephen Marsh on the national premiership with 99 domestic wins for the season, and Te Akau boss David Ellis wants his man to get to 100 wins.

"I know if you add in our Australian wins for the season we are past 100 wins for the season but you have to have targets and our next one is the 100 wins in New Zealand," says Ellis.

"So we will definitely have horses racing in July when it returns, not huge numbers but some."

That will include jumpers, one of the few areas of New Zealand racing where Te Akau has had little success, mainly because they have rarely tried.

Richards has yet to train a jumps winner of his own accord.

"We have a couple of nice jumpers here and we hope to have them going around before the end of the season," says Ellis. "But we definitely want that 100 wins, even though we realise the premiership is as good as won, and we also want to support the return of racing."

Te Akau have 75 horses back in work with 40 more boxes still to fill.

Ellis is expecting confirmation soon of up to 12 visitors boxes they can use in Melbourne should they decide to use that as their base for what looks certain to be more regular Australian campaigns next season.

Stable stars Te Akau Shark, Melody Belle and Probabeel are all spelling in Australia and may be unlikely to race here much next season, if at all.

Although the TAB will not confirm any plans to pay out early on Richards winning the premiership, that looks certain as they have done that in recent years when the Baker-Forsman stable had huge leads.

By paying out early on results deemed certain, the bookies give money back to punters which is often reinvested but they may decide to hold off doing so with thoroughbred futures bets until close to that code's resumption, to increase the chances winning punters reinvest the money on thoroughbred racing.

The jockeys' premiership is Lisa Allpress' to lose as she will resume racing on 81 wins for the season, six ahead of Kozzi Asano.


Sign up to our newsletter