Luxuriant - NZ Season Win 160

Date: 22 Jun 2024

Luxuriant - NZ Season Win 160

Te Akau trainers Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson took one horse to the races on 21 June at Awapuni, which resulted in Luxuriant (6 m Iffraaj – Opulent, by Keeper) winning the $17,000 HR Jones & Co Rating 65 1200 metres and securing their 160th win this season.

The number equalled a milestone moment in Te Akau racing history when former trainer Jamie Richards, now training in Hong Kong, set a new record of 160 wins in 2020/21, which was subsequently surpassed by Mark Walker last season with a tally of 203 domestic victories.

Whichever way you look at it, it reflects another fantastic season for everyone involved with the stable and a special moment for Sam Bergerson in his first season of training. 

Among the victories came 21 stakes' wins, to make 30 with the nine Walker has prepared from the Te Akau base at Cranbourne, while 59 of the 160 wins, to date, have been recorded in the South Island from the Te Akau stable at Riccarton.

Luxuriant went into the race in career best form and rated a top three chance, having waltzed home in the Rating 60 970 metres on 15 May at Cambridge, and followed with the fastest last 600m (33.2) for second in the Rating 65 1000 metres on 30 May at Awapuni.

In the hands of leading rider Warren Kennedy, Luxuriant again showed her appreciation for the poly track when coming from last to beat a good field. 

Run at genuine speed, Luxuriant was second last and standing the leader eight lengths passing the 600m, but once clear she sprouted wings to dash past the pace making Swazi (Choisir) near home.

Crossing the line with ears pricked, her time of 1:10.0 for 1200 metres was indicative of the strong race tempo and Luxuriant justified her support despite being a rather alarming drifter in the market from $2.80 to $6.50 fixed odds on the NZ TAB. 

“It was another really good win by Luxuriant and a top ride of Warren’s,” Walker said.

“It’s always good to see a homebred horse get up and win the way she did. 

“It will obviously be tougher for her now, getting up to Rating 75 grade, but she’s racing consistently and continued to improve as she’s matured and strengthened.

Luxuriant was accompanied on the float south for the second time by little Skyler Walker's mini pony Poppy, her constant companion, and obviously Poppy's presence worked the Oracle.

Owned by the Te Akau Opulent Syndicate, Luxuriant was bred by most of the syndicate who raced her dam Opulent.

Opulent was bought by David Ellis CNZM as a yearling at Karaka and Te Akau-trained the well-bred mare to win three races and finish fifth at Group Three level.

Purchased from Cambridge Stud at 2013 NZB Premier Sale, Opulent was owned by Te Akau Opulent Syndicate.

Of Opulent, Ellis said: “She is from one of the best families in the studbook, a beautiful filly, with plenty of strength and she really has great balance.

“The second dam is by Nijinsky (Northern Dancer) and family includes Group One winners: Redoute’s Choice, Platinum Scissors, Manhattan Rain, Umatilla, and Hurricane Sky. 

“Keeper (Danehill) is a great sire of fillies and we had already trained a Filly of the Year by Keeper, Insouciant.”

Another family member was purchased for $1.9 million at Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale on the Gold Coast, and the dam of Opulent, Silk Slipper (Woodman), was retired through injury after finishing second at her only start.

Sir Patrick Hogan (then Cambridge Stud owner) previously recalled: “I bought her dam, Dancing Show (Nijinsky), in foal to Thunder Gulch (Gulch), which I sold for $1.2 million in the Sydney sale, and bred her to Woodman to produce Silk Slipper and then to Danehill to get Dane Dancer. 

“Opulent was a special foal. She was also a special type of yearling when she went through the ring at the sales. Right from the start, she was a very good-looking and smart filly.” 

Also out of Opulent, the same syndicate has also bred stable-mates Plenty O’ Style and Class, both by Embellish (Savabeel). Three-year-old Plenty O’ Style was an easy Maiden winner over 1600 metres in March at Riccarton, while year younger Class trial placed in March before spelling. 

They also have a yearling filly in the stable by Eminent (Frankel), named Elopement. 

Luxuriant carries a Mr. Prospector cross on the sire line of Iffraaj and dam line of Opulent, as sire of grand-dam sire Woodman. She also has bloodline crosses to Northern Dancer and Secretariat. 

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