Markus Aurelius - Group 2 Magnificence

Date: 10 Nov 2021

Markus Aurelius - Group 2 Magnificence


Grabbing the bull by the horns, Markus Aurelius (5 g Ghibellines - Evancho, by Shinzig) won the prestigious $230,000 Coupland's Bakeries Mile (Gr. 2, 1600m) on the middle day (10 Nov.) of Cup Week at Riccarton.

Positively ridden from the outside gate (13), Markus Aurelius worked overtime before getting to second - when asked for an ultimate effort 200m out by rider Opie Bosson he was able to muster resolve in a stirring finish. It was fantastic stuff by both horse and rider in a race that has served Te Akau well.

“He travelled beautifully for me throughout the race and we were able to get some cover behind the leader,” Bosson said. “We were after more cover, but it was enough to get him off the bit and I tried to hold him up as long as I could.

“I was a sitting duck and I got a bit worried when I saw the others beside me, but I brought him out a little bit, so he could see them, and to his credit he just kept digging.”



Markus Aurelius was purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis CNZM for $13,000. Like stable-mate Summer Monsoon (Stratum), who earlier on the day won the Stewards' Stakes (Gr. 3, 1200m), Markus Aurelius had also won on NZ Cup Day last year and provided a significant double.

“It's a race sponsored by great friends of Te Akau, Ray & Jill Coupland, and son Lance who is doing a great job running the company,” Ellis said. “It couldn't be a bigger thrill and 99 years out of a 100 we would have been down there, but it wasn't to be this year due to COVID resstrictions.

“We've got a great ownership group in the horse. Richard Edmunds, a highly respected racing journalist, has a share. Jack Stewart, a grandson of Brian (ONZM) and Lorraine Anderton, who bred and sold the horse, he's got a share. I've grown up admiring the Anderton's and they just don't come any better than their family.

“There are a lot of wonderful owners involved in this horse who have been so supportive of us and I'm thrilled "Evin" (as we know him) has won such a prestigious race for them.



“The fields looked pretty even today and I wasn't overly confident, especially from the draw. However it goes to show what an incredible job Jamie (Richards) has done in placing the horses and how well Sam Bergerson and his team: Lydia Truesdale and Sumeet (Pillay) have looked after the horses and I'm just so proud of them.

“The horses look really good, have continued to improve during their campaigns and are trained to the minute. It's pretty obvious to me that Sam (Bergerson) is going to make the grade in this industry.

“Sam has worked for (trainer) Aidan O'Brien in Ireland. I knew his grandfather (Herb Bergerson) and he was a good trainer and so is his father Roydon Bergerson, and Sam will end up being as good as they come, too.

“And young Sumeet (Pillay), who went down from our Matamata base to help them and ride work, along with Jason Laking who has been riding a lot of work for us and done a great job, all these people are vital.

“In our business, it's such a big team effort. It starts with the horses here at the farm, where Deane (Lowcay), Stephanie (Hyde-Richards) and Luke (Copeland) look after them so well, breaking in and caring for all the spellers.

“Then Jamie and our Matamata team who work so hard, and it's something that I've spent a lifetime creating and working on. Days like this are special and it's a combination of not just the horses but everyone who works for us as well.

“We're also very lucky to have such good riders like Opie (Bosson) and Danielle (Johnson) riding our team, and a couple of good apprentices in Joe Kamaruddin and Parmar Singh.  How good is to see our stable rider Opie back and riding in such sensational fashion.

“Last time we won the Coupland's Mile was with Te Akau Shark, an incredible performance and he went on to win two Group One races and finish third in a Cox Plate. We had a massive party for that win and I can only hope that the owners in Markus Aurelius will have an equally good celebration.

“Although I haven't been able to get south, I've been spending a lot of time looking at all the horses for the upcoming Ready to Run Sale. I've done more homework than ever and I'm really looking forward to the sale next week (17 & 18 November) where I'll be trying to buy the next Te Akau Shark or the next Gingernuts.



Appropriately, Ellis purchased Markus Aurelius as a yearling at 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock South Island Sale, from draft of White Robe Lodge, and he is owned by Te Akau Great Southern Man Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn-Fenton Ellis MNZM). He has a lovely cross of Danehill through the dam side of Ghibellines and as the sire of dam-sire Shinzig and his dam Evancho (Shinzig) won four times to 2100 metres.

On Dead4 footing, Markus Aurelius ran 1600 metres in 1:36.2 and paid $4.10 & $1.80 on NZ TAB tote.

“We wanted to be in front half of the field, but when he was stuck wide he no choice but to go forward and it ended up being the winning of the race,” said assistant trainer Sam Bergerson.

“He's been consistent all season long. He's run some brilliant races down here and it's great to see him finally get the result today.

“He probably deserves a break now, but I'll leave the big decisions to Jamie (Richards) and DC (David Ellis.

“I not naive to the fact of how lucky I am to hold the position I have and I'm grateful to Jamie and DC, Karyn (Fenton-Ellis) and Mark (Walker) for the opportunity. Every day, I'm learning off one of the best, in Jamie, and I'm very grateful.”

The winner of seven and four seconds from 16 starts, including hat-trick earlier in year, Markus Aurelius had finished second in the Open 1400 metres on 23 October and enhanced a very good course form with the win.

“It was a great win by Markus Aurelius and I was thrilled with that,” said trainer Jamie Richards, after recording his ninth stakes' victory this season.

“It had been the plan for a while to have him and Summer Monsoon down there at Riccarton. Summer Monsoon had continued to improve, and while that (Stewards' Stakes) wasn't his target race, with Markus Aurelius it was always the plan to get him into the Coupland's with a nice weight and thankfully we were able to do that.

“He was given a lovely ride by Opie (Bosson), going forward from the barrier and taking bad luck out of the equation. He was able to get a little of bit of cover and he stayed well. He's no champion, but a good miler and a good, tough, honest horse.

“He won really well, after being there to be shot down and they couldn't get him. Again, the guys down there in the South Island have done a wonderful job.

“We had Opie and Danielle there for gallops last Saturday morning. Markus Aurelius and Zouluminous worked together, and Summer Monsoon and Karalino worked together, and they all won on the same day.”

To end, a word in summation from part-owner and racing journalist Richard Edmunds, who has embraced the feats of Markus Aurelius and enjoyed the ride.

“An amazing training performance by Jamie,” he said. “He told us way back in April that this was the target, and he had the horse trained to the minute.

“I wasn't sure what to expect from the wide gate, but Opie pulled off a piece of magic and Markus produced a performance that was very special to watch.

“So grateful to the whole team for a thrill unlike anything I've ever experienced before in racing.”

Markus Aurelius was strapped by Lydia Truesdale.


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