Prise De Fer Auckland Cup Farewell

Date: 9 Mar 2024

Prise De Fer Auckland Cup Farewell

Prise De Fer (8 g Savabeel – Foiled, by Snippets), who provided his owners with many unforgettable moments, is retiring from racing following the $500,000 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (Gr. 1, 3200m) on Saturday at Ellerslie.

Today his jockey will don a black armband in honour of one of his most passionate and stalwart owners, the late Peter Wagner who passed away as the result of a severe stroke just days ago.  Ten members of his family will attend Ellerslie to farewell this much loved horse, and also salute Peter, whose funeral will take place tomorrow.

Winning his second start, over 1400 metres in 2018 at Ruakaka, Prise De Fer has captured 11 victories, including a Group One, and consistently raced at the sharp end, season after season, in New Zealand.

He raced well as a three-year-old in the $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic (Restricted Listed, 1600m), Avondale Guineas (Gr. 2, 2100m), and culminated his campaign with an unlucky eighth in the NZ Derby (Gr. 1, 2400m), before really hitting his straps as a four-year-old with a five win streak that included the Rich Hill Mile (Gr. 2, 1600m) and Taranaki Cup (Gr. 3, 1800m), before finishing second to eventual nine time Group One winning stable-mate Avantage (Fastnet Rock) in the Otaki WFA (Gr. 1, 1600m).

Solid through the spring as a five-year-old, which included chasing home stable-mate Melody Belle (Commands), the dual Horse of the Year and domestic record-holder of 14 Group Ones, he showed as a six-year-old to have really furnished physically, when placed in the Windsor Park Plate (Gr. 1, 1600m), Livamol Classic (Gr. 1, 2040m), and Captain Cook Stakes (Gr. 1, 1600m).

He went up another notch as a seven-year-old, winning the Eagle Technology Stakes (Gr. 3, 1600m), with a last to first performance at Te Rapa, and returned to the birdcage bristling with enthusiasm, where trainer Mark Walker sounded a possible seven day turnaround, and it seemed not only would the strapping son of Savabeel (Zabeel) relish the task but also that it would take a peak performance to beat him.

He duly obliged to become a brilliant winner of the Captain Cook Stakes (Gr. 1, 1600m), with a clinical victory in the hands of jockey Michael McNab, overwhelmingly celebrated by his owners in attendance, and a win richly deserved. 

“He’s been a stable favourite for a long time,” said trainer Mark Walker. 

“Sabre, as he is know, is a bit of a character, and he continued to improve year after year and, obviously, last year as a seven-year-old was one of his best seasons. 

“It was so exciting to see him finally get a Group One win, and the curtain comes down on his career this weekend with him retiring a very happy and healthy horse.

“He’s spent time and fitted in so well at our barns on the Matamata racecourse and also at our Main Stable next door, and it was all about keeping him happy and interested in the twilight of his career.

“He had many highlights, obviously the Captain Cook, but also the Rich Hill Mile (Gr. 2, 1600m) and Canterbury Gold Cup (Gr. 3, 2000m) were other special wins.

“He’ll live out a very happy retirement as a show horse.”

Prise De Fer was purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $100,000, from draft of Trelawney Stud, at 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale, and owned by the Te Akau En Guarde Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).

A really good horse in any language, Prise De Fer has won prize money nearing $950,000. His 11 victories included five stakes' wins, nine stakes' placed seconds, and four thirds. 

“I bought the horse as a yearling at Karaka, from one of the best studs in the world (Trelawney Stud), and Karyn syndicated him,” Ellis said.

“He was a horse that just continued to go from strength to strength and has been such a great ambassador, not only for Te Akau but also for New Zealand bred thoroughbreds.

“He meant the world to his owners and gave them some enormous thrills. He grew into a big, strong, son of Savabeel and given the right trip he could finish as powerfully as some of the best ever.”


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