Season Review: She Lit Up the Sky

Date: 24 Jul 2023

Season Review: She Lit Up the Sky


It's been an amazing season for Te Akau owners - with 197 New Zealand wins - 33 of those at Group/Listed level - and add to this, a Group 1 win and whisker Group 1 second placing to Imperatriz in Melbourne and Sydney (to add to her Group 1 BCD Sprint and Group 1 Railway titles).

We reflect now on a rising three year old filly who lit up the track with a stakes' race in her juvenile season ... purchased by David Ellis CNZM at the Magic Millions' Sale ... Sky On Fire ...


Te Akau secured its eighth victory in the time-honoured $80,000 Riccarton Park Function Centre Welcome Stakes (Listed, 1000m), when Sky On Fire (2 f Exceed and Excel - Elusive Meteor) led home a stable trifecta on 9 November at Riccarton.

Although presumptuous to expect the trifecta in a stakes' race, Te Akau has achieved the feat on numerous occasions, and the same three were simply emulating their previous starts.

Whereas Sky On Fire beat Rubicon Crossing (Rubick) and Rhetorical (Snitzel), the Pearl Series 2YO 800 metres on 22 October had gone the way of Rhetorical, ahead of Sky On Fire, and Rubicon Crossing.



Ridden by visiting Australian jockey Josh Parr, who won the Metropolitan Trophy (Listed, 2500m) aboard stable-mate Campionessa (Contributer) on the first day of Cup Week at Riccarton, Sky On Fire was expected to lead, which she did at a genuine bat, with Rubicon Crossing to her outside, and Rhetorical camped on their heels. Never appearing in danger of being headed, she ran out a good winner with three-quarters of a length margins separating the first three. 

“I'm proud of all three of them and they ran great races,” said trainer Mark Walker, who prepared the first Welcome Stakes' winner for the stable, Maroofity (Maroof), in 2002. 

“They all deserve a bit of a holiday now at Te Akau Stud, and a stakes win and stakes placed certainly helps their pedigrees.”

Owned by the Te Akau Magic Fillies Breeding Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), Sky On Fire was purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $400,000 in January at the 2022 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, from the draft of Eureka Stud.




The Welcome Stakes was first run in 1879, and the experienced Josh Parr (35) had ridden over 1000 winners including nine Group Ones. 

Previous wins for Te Akau in the Welcome Stakes (Listed, 1000m):


2002 - Maroofity (Maroof)

2005 - Xbert (Bertolini)

2009 - Encosta Diablo (Encosta de Lago)

2010 - Bespoke (Pins)

2015 - Sassy ‘N' Smart (Smart Missile) 

2017 - Al Hasa (Exceed and Excel) 

2020 - Avonallo (Belardo)


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