Oh Swordie You’re So (Grp 2) Fine
22 Oct 2018
Any doubts of a return to his best were removed when Sword of Osman (3 g Savabeel – Bunyah, by Distant View) won the $100,000 James & Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes (Gr. 2, 1400m) on Labour Day, 22 October, at Te Rapa.
A nominee for Champion Two-Year-Old, won by stable-mate Avantage (Fastnet Rock), after winning the Sistema Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m) and Matamata Slipper (Gr. 3, 1200m), he performed below his best when resuming in the Northern Breeders’ Stakes (Gr. 3, 1200m) in September and yielded late for fifth after travelling quickly in front on 6 October in the Hawkes Bay Guineas (Gr. 2, 1400m).
But noticeable improvement since then saw him parade in lovely, relaxed order and transfer that into a nose victory over Qiji Express (Shamexpress), with 4.25 lengths to third placed race favourite Madison County (Pins).
The victory was timely in many respects, as it provided the green light to trainer Jamie Richards, rider Opie Bosson, Te Akau principal David Ellis, and owners in the Te Akau Great Sword Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), that the horse can continue on a path to the $500,000 Al Basti 2000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) on 10 November at Riccarton, where he will endeavour to provide Te Akau with their seventh win in the race and Bosson with his eighth – after they combined to win it last year with Embellish (Savabeel).
Springing a wide gate, Sword of Osman travelled comfortably under Bosson after taking over at the 1000m, was well rated, and lifted appreciably when challenged over the concluding stages to win a thrilling finish.
It was a performance and result that brought tears to one of the owners on course, who made a trip from Hong Kong, co-owner Dr. Phillip Mak. However it was also very special too for other co-owners and Waikato Racing Club Board members John Elstob and Gilbert Southworth.
On footing upgraded to Good3 before the first race, Sword of Osman ran the 1400 metres in 1:23.7, last 600m in 34.1, and luxurious $9.00 odds in the morning shortened to $6.50 & $1.70 on the NZ TAB.
“We haven’t been able to fault him at home and it mapped like he might get to lead soft enough,” said Richards, who won his first stakes’ race this season at Te Rapa (Melody Belle, in August), while Sword of Osman provided the sixth and sees him at the head of the premiership with 27 wins and a strike rate of 3.7.
“It was a lovely ride by Opie (Bosson) and he’s such an important part of our team,” Richards said. “He rides him in all his gallops and I’m really thrilled for him to get this big win when he’s worked so hard.
“Also, thanks to Scott Lucock and Mette (Mosebo) who look after Sword of Osman at home in the colt barn. They’ve done a really good job to get him back on track. He took a while to come out of the winter, but really pleased for everyone involved and a terrific group of owners.”
The win clinched a 2000 Guineas start in the mind of Bosson.
“They way he raced today, he relaxed beautifully, got a nice soft lead, and quickened up like he’d see a mile out,” he said. “I was really rapt with the way the horse went. He’s just turned the corner since his last run, relaxed more in his work and he’s looking better in the coat, so he’s on the up. I liked the way he went right to the line and I’m really looking forward to the Guineas.”
One of the strongest and precocious sons of champion sire Savabeel (Zabeel), Sword of Osman was bought by David Ellis for $165,000 at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale, prepared by Trelawney Stud for breeder Joan Egan, and now won four of his eight starts.
Post race reports:
Waikato Racing Club Chairman, Karyn Fenton-Ellis (MNZM): “This race recognises two very special people in James & Annie Sarten, the parents of our race sponsor Marie Leicester. Today, we celebrate 35 years of the Sarten/Leicester sponsorship relationship. We thank Marie and her family for continuing this great gesture and in doing so honouring her parents.
“Marie is a highly successful breeder, continuing on the wonderful Belle family, and a terrific role model for women. She has bred some stars, including Melody Belle, been club president at Taupo, and an inaugural director of the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame board, for which she was recently recognised for her contribution.
“This race was recently upgraded to Group Two status and has been won by the likes of Katie Lee (Pins), who went on to win both the 1000 & 2000 Guineas, Sacred Falls (O’Reilly), the 2000 Guineas and dual Doncaster Handicap winner, Bounding, and 2000 Guineas winner Ugo Foscolo.
“This has become a pivotal and key race as we head towards the Guineas during Cup week in Christchurch. And today, we’ve seen a Group One winner at two, a son of Savabeel (Zabeel), come back and show that he’s lost none of that ability.”
Marie Leicester said: “Today is a celebration in remembering my Mum & Dad, James & Annie Sarten, and also a celebration of the Belle family, and who would have thought after 80 years that the bell would still be ringing so loudly.
Te Akau principal David Ellis said: “What a thrill to win this race and what a great finish it was. Congratulations to the club staff and the board for producing a track that looks outstanding. Congratulations to Jamie (Richards) for the wonderful job he’s done training this horse, and I’m sure you’ll all agree what a peach of a ride by Opie. From a wide draw, he rode him beautifully.
“What keeps Karyn and me going is the thrill that our owners get from winning these races and it’s great to have so many of you here. Some of you have been in many horses with us and we greatly appreciate your support.
Trainer Jamie Richards said: “It a great privilege to receive an award for this illustrious race. We’ve enjoyed a lot of success with the Belle family of late and it’s a special moment. The staff had the horse looking a picture and I said to the owners: if he’s ever going to beat Madison County it will be today, and he’s done the job for everyone. Also big thanks to Opie. I don’t think the general public understand what a big part of our team he is and the sacrifices he’s made to get his weight back under control.”
Opie Bosson said: “I’d like to thank the Sarten family for this race. I’ve won it a few times and it’s a great guide to the Guineas’. I’d like to thank David Ellis. I probably wouldn’t be standing here without him. He’s been a big part of my comeback and we’ve done a lot of kilometres together in the gym, and we’re back into it tomorrow morning. Thanks to Jamie, he changed a few things and had the horse spot on today, so big ups to him.
Visiting owner from Hong Kong, Dr. Phillip Mak said: “To have a good horse winning is never simple, so I’m very happy and it was not an easy race. He began from a wide barrier and had very strong opposition, so it’s a big thrill. I know David (Ellis) very well and have had horses with Te Akau for about two years. They are good friends and they have had consistent results for 40 years. The communication is very quick and efficient, especially with Jamie training on his own for the first time. I can tell that he is very much on the ball and keeps us informed. The cup is always half-full with horse reports, but with Te Akau they always give a balanced report.”
Gilbert Southworth said: “It’s wonderful to be involved in the Te Akau team and to have a Group winner on my home track, an unbelievable experience and a great buzz.”
Sword of Osman is one of six named foals out of the raced European-bred mare Bunyah (Distant View) who is a half-sister to Group Three winner Governor Brown (Kingmambo) and Listed winner Hataab (Woodman).
As well as producing Sword of Osman, Bunyah is also the dam of the stakes-placed filly Fortaleza (Darci Brahma), winner of nine African Pulse (Johannesburg), four time winner Big Surprise (Lucky Unicorn), dual winner Sazzana (Savabeel), and talented galloper Arundel (Duke of Marmalade).
18-year-old mare Bunyah had a filly by Ocean Park (Thorn Park) born last December and was not covered in 2017.
Sword of Osman was strapped by Mette Mosebo.
Photo credit – www.raceimages.co.nz