Stars Align for Winning Debut

Date: 24 Dec 2023

Stars Align for Winning Debut

Without a hitch, When Stars Align (2c Zoustar – Shenandoah, by Darci Brahma) recorded a winning debut in the $40,000 Japac Homes 2YO 1100 metres on Saturday at Trentham. 

First and third, respectively, at the trials, most recently when lengthening nicely on 5 December at Waipa, When Stars Align and stable-mate Unbridled Joy, a colt by Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice) and also on debut, were dominant in betting and provided the quinella.

Utilizing barrier one, When Stars Align controlled matters in front for jockey Michael McNab and flattened out nicely over the concluding stages to win by one and a quarter lengths over Unbridled Joy, who finished strongly from a handy spot on the outer. 

On Soft5 footing, When Stars Align ran 1100 metres in 1:03.9 and paid $2.10 & $1.30 on the NZ TAB tote.

“He’s still got quite an extravagant action which will only get better with more time and maturity, once he fills out a bit, but he did the job well and it was a pleasing fresh-up, debut win,” said co-trainer Mark Walker.

“He’s got a lot of natural ability, from a very good farm, Wentwood Grange, and we’ve had a lot of luck with their progeny.

“The overnight trip away will help make him into a racehorse and it's good for the owners getting money in the bank straight away ahead of the Karaka Millions.”

The win by the horse affectionately known as 'Noah' saw him earn $23,000, taking him to No.7 for the $1 million TAB Karaka Millions 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m) on Saturday 27 January at Ellerslie. 

Runner up stablemate Unbridled Joy, having been purchased at the Magic Million's Sale in January this year, is not eligible for event - but is eligible for the Magic Millions 2YO and 3YO race series.

Owned by Te Akau Stars Aligned Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), When Stars Align was purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $400,000 at the 2023 Karaka Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Wentwood Grange. 

In search of the stable's eighth consecutive victory in the race, after Champion Two-Year-Old Tokyo Tycoon (Satono Aladdin) won last year, When Stars Align is one of four for the stable presently eligible in the field of 14.

On course, co-trainer Sam Bergerson said: “Nabba (Michael McNab) worked him on Tuesday and was pretty keen to find the rail and follow it, and thankfully he did.

“He’s still doing a few things wrong, changing legs, but it’s all in front of him and a nice horse.

“The Karaka Millions might come up a touch too soon for him, but we’ll get him home and see how he does. He’s a big strong horse, but still a touch immature.

“Unbridled Joy got in behind them, relaxed nicely, would have learnt a lot and was strong to the line.

“We’ve got another couple of nice two-year-olds in on Boxing Day that can hopefully put their hands up for the Karaka Millions as well. It comes around fast, so hopefully we’ll be there in force again.”

Zoustar, the sire of When Stars Align, won six of his nine starts, including two Group One's and a Group Two, and became one of the most sought after stallions in Australia, following the premature demise of his sire Northern Meteor (Encosta De Lago) who had been Champion First Season Sire.

In his own right, Zoustar has been Champion First, Second, & Third Season Sire, Leading Sire of 3YO's, and Champion Sire in Singapore.

Zoustar has already been a prolific sire of nearly 1500 winners, over 80 stakes' winners, including seven individual Group One winners. 

The colt's dam Shenandoah, a dual winner of two races and Group Two placed in Australia, is by Champion Sire Darci Brahma (Danehill), who purchased as a yearling by David Ellis at Karaka. The winner of five Group One races trans-Tasman when trained by Te Akau, Darci Brahma went on to become a terrific stallion before his retirement from commercial stud duties in 2023.

“He was typical of the sire (Zoustar) and an outstanding colt in every respect when we bought him at Karaka,” Ellis said.

“It’s great to see Darci Brahma doing the job as a broodmare sire, too, also with Mark (Walker) having trained him to win five Group Ones.

“The colt's from Wentwood Grange, where the Hawkins family does an outstanding job breeding and preparing young horses, and the family has retained a share in the colt as well.

“The Hawkins' family does a beautiful job and I inspected their yearlings last Monday, ahead of the sales at the end of January at Karaka, and as usual it has a really nice draft.

“We’ve got quite a few new clients in the winner, as well as long-standing clients John & Denise Elstob, Glenn and Cathie Holmes and Ronald Lau who have shares in both the winner and the runner-up.

“It was a terrific first-up run by both colts. The winner is eligible for the Karaka Millions and looks a suitable horse for the race providing he travels home well and continues to make the necessary progress.

“When Stars Align became our 78th win for the season and when you take into account that the season is only almost five months old, it’s an incredible achievement by all the team.

“It’s a time of the year when most people are on holiday, but when you’re in the racing industry it’s full steam ahead, and I’d like to congratulate all those in the Colt Barn who have looked after those two so well.

“Karyn and I are so proud of the whole team and even Christmas Day we’ve got horses to work. It’s an industry where plenty of hands-on work is required 365 days a year, and the team deserves all the success it's having. We love winning races for our owners.”

When Stars Align has a Danehill cross through the dam-line of Zoustar and sire line of Shenandoah.

When Stars Align was strapped by Ashley Handley.

Photo credit -


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