Karaka Spotlight On Our 2YO's

Date: 26 Jan 2024

Karaka Spotlight On Our 2YO's

A sporting dynasty that we are so proud of - here’s our class of 2023 - Te Akau's TAB Karaka Millions' 2YO hopefuls! 

Te Akau principal David Ellis CNZM has purchased the previous seven consecutive $1 million Karaka Million 2YO winners as yearlings at Karaka. It's a superb level of success that you would not find replicated anywhere in the world. Te Akau Racing has a strong hand in the event this year, on the eve of the New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sales Series (28 Jan. – 2 Feb.) at Karaka.

The race was 'shared around' after the inaugural event in 2008, but since 2017 Te Akau has had a stranglehold.

Subsequent dual Horse of the Year and national record-holder of Group 1 wins (14) Melody Belle scored in 2017. Eventual nine-time Group 1 winner Avantage won in 2018 – while both were named Champion Two-Year-Old. Melody Belle sold on retirement for A$2.6 million, while Avantage's sale for $4.1 million remains a world record price for an online sale. 

Quadruple Australian Group 1 winner and dual Horse of the Year Probabeel won in 2019 (the next year going on to make it the only double, when claiming the 3YO Million too). 

Another Champion Two-Year-Old and Group 1 winner Cool Aza Beel, now standing at stud in Australia, won in 2020. Consequent Group 1 winner On the Bubbles brought the house down in 2021. Dynastic let down to score impressively in 2022, and Tokyo Tycoon was breathtaking last year, storming to victory from last and the widest gate, prior to also being named Champion Two-Year-Old. 

All seven were purchased by Ellis at Karaka, from which eligibility is acquired through registration and prize money then determines who makes the field (Order of Entry).  

Brief reflection of action:

2017: From barrier three, with blinkers on, Melody Belle was out fast before steadying for cover in fourth passing the 900m and once clear, she pounced on the leaders 250m out, quickly asserted a two-length advantage and never looked like being beaten. It was a terrific ride by Opie Bosson and even better effort by the filly, who really did win well.

2018: Avantage was race favourite for the big dance and proved too good. Catching the start beautifully to situate fourth for Opie Bosson, Avantage was clear to challenge on straightening, wound into her work and charged home to score - as commentator George Simon said "game, set, match Avantage"!. Stable-mate Al Hasa finished second. 

2019: She absolutely killed them, Probabeel. Take nothing away from stable-mates Melody Belle and Avantage, who won the two previous editions, but Probabeel could have surpassed them in completing a hat-trick. Flawless in her preliminary, the superiority of Probabeel, after drawing the outside gate (14), to leave her rivals cold with a devastating finish was something to behold – winning by two and three-quarter lengths under Opie Bosson. It was a Te Akau trained trifecta with stable-mates Aotea Lad finished second and Yourdeel third. 

2020: Timing is everything and the team got it dead-right when winning Te Akau's fourth consecutive Karaka Million with Cool Aza Beel. Away well before steadying to fourth, he ranged three wide rounding the home turn, sprinted to lead at the 300m and was far too strong when getting clear. Victory gave Te Akau stable rider Opie Bosson a place history and emulated NZ jockey Shane Dye who famously rode four consecutive Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes 1200m winners: 1989-92.

2021: With success comes expectation and Te Akau Racing duly delivered again when On the Bubbles became its fifth winner. Rider Johnathan Parkes negated the widest draw (14) to slot into fourth at the 800m, had On the Bubbles poised approaching the home turn and after reaching the lead a furlong out, he drew clear to win by one and three-quarter lengths - "they'll be on the bubbles all nights long". Stable-mates Sneaky Shark finished second, Avonallo third, and Sophisticardo fourth in a Te Akau first four.

2022: It was yet another cracker from Opie Bosson who pulled the right rein when winning his fifth Karaka Million 2YO aboard Dynastic. Following on from Melody Belle, Avantage, Probabeel and Cool Aza Beel, Te Akau's stable rider is never overawed by occasion, and was midfield on the inner before extracting Dynastic on straightening at the 400m. The imposing colt let down impressively, while providing the first Southern Hemisphere victory for Cambridge Stud stallion Almanzor (Wootton Bassett). Stable-mates Fellini finished third and Time Flies was fourth. 

2023: Tokyo Tycoon had arguably provided the most impressive two-year-old win of the season when drawing clear for victory in the 2YO 1100 metres on Boxing Day, and despite drawing barrier 13 of 14, he franked the performance of former stable star, dual Horse of the Year, and historic Karaka Million double winner Probabeel (Savabeel), when she killed them from the outside gate. It was a brilliant and calculated ride by the former South African Champion Apprentice Craig Zackey and an equine feat of the highest order. Stable-mate Trobriand (Kermadec) worked home strongly for third. 

This year is no different, as Te Akau prepares five for the $1m TAB Karaka Millions 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m). In Order of Entry:

Bellatrix Star (2 f Star Witness – Alana’s Party, by Exceed and Excel) heads the list, having won two of her four starts, most recently in the $225,000 Eclipse Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m) on 1 January at Pukekohe. Owned by the Fortuna Bellatrix Star Syndicate (Mgr: J Galvin), she was purchased for $80,000 by David Ellis CNZM and Fortuna Racing at the Karaka 2023 Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Phoenix Park. Barrier 6 - fixed odds: $4.20.

Cool ‘N’ Fast (2 c Savabeel – Cool ‘N’ Sassy, by Testa Rossa) overcame obstacles to provide an exciting debut victory in the $80,000 New Zealand Bloodstock – Karaka 2024 2YO 1100 metres on Boxing Day at Pukekohe. After purchasing his Group 1 winning brother, Cool Aza Beel, who won the race in 2020, from the draft of Fairdale Stud, Ellis bought Cool ‘N’ Fast for $340,000, from the draft of Hallmark Stud, at the 2023 Karaka Book 1 Sale. Owned by the Te Akau Cool ‘N’ Fast Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM) he has drawn barrier 4 - fixed odds: $6.50.

Maracatu (2 g Ardrossan – Cortado, by Sepoy) displayed plenty of resolve when winning the $25,000 Majestic Horse Floats Maiden 2YO 1100 metres on 2 December at Te Rapa, before being narrowly beaten in the $45,000 2YO 1200 metres on 14 January at Ellerslie. Owned by the Te Akau Barista Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis), Maracatu was purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $190,000 at the Karaka 2023 Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Mapperley Stud. Drawn 11 - fixed odds: $26.00.

When Stars Align (2 c Zoustar – Shenandoah, by Darci Brahma) recorded a winning debut in the $40,000 Japac Homes 2YO 1100 metres on 23 December at Trentham. Owned by the Te Akau Stars Aligned Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), When Stars Align was purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $400,000 at the 2023 Karaka Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Wentwood Grange. Darn 9 - fixed odds: $18.00.

Damask Rose (2 f Savabeel – Sombreuil, by Flying Spur) recorded a debut victory in the $18,500 Maiden 2YO 1100 metres on 27 December at New Plymouth. She was purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $200,000, from the draft of Milan Park, at the 2023 Karaka Book 1 Sale, and is owned by the Te Akau Coming Up Roses Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM). Ballot one she requires a defection to make the field. Drawn 1 - fixed odds: $26.00. 

Go the tangerine - good luck to all of our owners and connections! 


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