Season Review: So Proud of Prise De Fer

Date: 27 Jul 2023

Season Review: So Proud of Prise De Fer


As the 2022/23 season end edges ever closer, we reflect on a magical 12 months for Te Akau owners.  As of this morning, 27 July, the team has recorded 198 wins in New Zealand alone (plus a Group 1 victory and Group 1 runner up placing in Australia by Imperatriz).  We are proud to have won well over $9 million in stakes for our owners too over the past 12 months.

Today we celebrate a horse who finally broke through for his elite prize - a coveted Group 1. If a horse ever deserved Group 1 glory, you could argue it was Prise De Fer (who we know as Sabre) - the winner of two Group titles this past season ...


Making it five wins on the day for Te Akau, Prise De Fer (7 g Savabeel - Foiled, by Snippets) produced a last to first victory in the $85,000 Eagle Technology Stakes (Gr. 3, 1600m) on 26 November at Te Rapa. 

Winner of the Canterbury Gold Cup (Gr. 3, 2000m) to end his previous campaign, Prise De Fer had been in solid form and, having placed in all five course attempts, he again rated a top three prospect after fighting hard for second in the Tauranga Stakes (Gr. 2, 1600m) on 12 November at Tauranga.

Ridden by former South African Champion Apprentice Craig Zackey, who registered his third stakes' win since arriving in New Zealand, Prise De Fer was allowed an easy first half of the race, lobbing along at the rear, before unleashing widest on the track to engulf his rivals. 

“He's a superstar,” said Zackey, on dismounting. “The pace was on and I just didn't want him getting bumped around, so I let him drift out a bit and save all that energy. He did all the work.

“It's going to give him confidence and he's only going to go up from here. He's a lovely natured and gentleman horse.”

Zackey could not have been more accurate as a week later Prise De Fer won the Captain Cook Stakes (Gr. 1, 1600m) at Trentham. 

“It was a really good effort and horses like this are hard to place at the top of the handicap,” said trainer Mark Walker, after preparing his ninth stakes winner for the season and second on the day following La Flora Belle (Iffraaj) in the Wanganui Cup (Listed, 2040m). 

“Full credit to David Ellis, as well. We've had five winners today and he's bought four of them. Dave and Karyn (Fenton-Ellis), they do all the hard yards, going to the sales to buy these horses, all on spec, and syndicate them.

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 Te Akau En Guarde Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).

“To win five races on a Saturday is incredible and to include two stakes' wins and a trifecta is hard to do,” Ellis said.

“We're only achieving these results because a) Mark is such a good trainer, and b) he's got such a world-class team working with him. And I mean a world-class team.”





Maintaining the polish, Prise De Fer (7 g Savabeel - Foiled, by Snippets) was a brilliant winner of the $300,000 Rydges Captain Cook Stakes (Gr. 1, 1600m) on 3 December at Trentham.

Racing at the top of his game after unleashing the fastest final 600m (34.6) to win the Eagle Technology Stakes (Gr. 3, 1600m) seven days prior at Te Rapa, a mature, race hardened, and talented Prise De Fer was finally able to cap five Group One placed performances with a superior win.

Prise De Fer had returned to the birdcage bristling with enthusiasm at Te Rapa, 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.

At his second course attempt, having wound up late for fifth in the Thorndon Mile (Gr. 1, 1600m) in January, Prise De Fer settled last as ready pacemaker Deerfield (Falkirk) set a genuine clip. With eyes on race favourite Aegon (Sacred Falls), just ahead of him, jockey Michael McNab pushed up to slipstream turning for home and quickened widest on the track to gain his measure.

It was a clinical victory, overwhelmingly celebrated by his owners in attendance, and one richly deserved. 

McNab had recorded his previous Group One for the stable when Imperatriz (I Am Invincible) led home a Te Akau first four in the Levin Classic (Gr. 1, 1600m) in March at Trentham, and was again praiseworthy. 

“I'm very happy and always better in the tangerine (colours), too, because Dave (Ellis) has been super to me,” he said.

“The horse seems to be going from strength to strength,” Ellis said. “He's stabled in the Main Barn, run by Steph Hyde-Richards and Ashley Handley, who was down there to strap him, and they don't come any better than those two. 

“I'm so proud of Michael McNab. He's our reigning Champion Jockey and riding in career best form. He's a great human being and it's a tremendous thrill for the whole team.

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

A really good horse since first racing as a three-year-old, Prise De Fer ended the season with prize money nearing $900,000. His 11 victories included five stakes' wins, seven stakes' placed seconds, and four thirds. 



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