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Super Saturday – Win No.4 – Probabeel Grp 1 Epsom Perfection

3 Oct 2020

Super Saturday – Win No.4 – Probabeel Grp 1 Epsom Perfection

Recording her second Group 1 win on Australian soil, Probabeel (4 m Savabeel – Far Fetched, by Pins) produced a tremendous victory in the iconic $1m Epsom Handicap (Gr. 1, 1600m) on Saturday at Royal Randwick, Sydney.

After scoring emphatically in the Bill Ritchie Handicap (Gr. 3, 1400m) a fortnight ago, and having won the Surround Stakes (Gr. 1, 1400m) in February, Probabeel extended her course record to three wins and three seconds, and eight wins, six seconds, from 18 starts in total.

After Probabeel won the Bill Ritchie, trainer Jamie Richards had two hopes heading into the Epsom: good ground and a decent draw. While getting his wish with the footing (Good4), the draw (15) was unfavourable, but after jumping well rider Kerrin McEvoy positioned the super mare in fifth, albeit a touch wide. Appearing to travel sweetly throughout, she levelled at the 300m, took over a furlong out, and proceeded to power away from a host of cracking opponents.

At the line, Probabeel had a length to spare over arch rival Funstar (Adelaide) and another Kiwi, Riodini (Proisir), running the race of his life in third. The time was a sizzling 1:32.8.

“It’s hard to find the right words to describe the win by Probabeel in the Epsom,” Richards said. “It feels just unbelievable. It was a hearty and heady ride by Kerrin (McEvoy). He was positive from the barrier and ended up in front of midfield, albeit a little deeper than we would have liked. But, it was probably the winning of the race being a bit closer, there on the corner, and she really sprinted well to win with authority.

“We’d put a lot of thought about getting her into the race with the right weight and 52.5kgs was a really nice weight for her to carry. 

“Ashley Handley looks after her, loves her, and overall it’s been a wonderful day. For Melody Belle to gain her 11thGroup 1 win and then cap the day winning the Epsom is hard to beat, and I couldn’t be any more proud of the team.”

Purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis for $380,000, from the draft of Waikato Stud, at the 2018 Karaka Book 1 Sale, Probabeel was snapped up days later by Brendan Lindsay MNZM & Jo Lindsay (Cambridge Stud) when inspecting the yearlings at Te Akau Stud, and she has now won eight of her 18 starts, including six seconds, and NZ$2.5 million in prize money. 

A history making filly in January when becoming the first to win the $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic (Restricted Listed, 1600m) a year on from the $1m Karaka Million 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m), Probabeel joined stable-mate and reigning Horse of the Year Melody Belle (Commands) who became the first winner of the Hawkes Bay Triple Crown.

“It was a great day for the New Zealand breeding and racing industry and the biggest thrill I got was for Jo and Brendan,” Ellis. “What they’re doing for our industry is quite incredible and every breeder in New Zealand is going to win with what they do, the success of their horses, and they’re helping take our industry to the next level.

“Strategically, they’ve gone about it in a very smart way. They’ve employed highly credentialed people and bought beautiful international bloodlines. They’re bought some fantastic mares from New Zealand, Australia, and internationally, and it’s very exciting to be training for them.

“Henry Plumptre is their CEO and racing manager and what he doesn’t know about racing internationally isn’t worth knowing. He’s worked for the best in the world and a great asset for Cambridge Stud. They’ve employed outstanding people at every level of their business.”

Ellis was also quick to note the influence of Savabeel, sire of Probabeel, in the success of the breeding industry in NZ.

“It was great to win the Epsom with a daughter of Savabeel, he said. “We love Savabeel and have a lot of success with his progeny. They suit our stable and suit the way we train. It was a big win for Waikato Stud and another big win for the breeders of the year, Garry & Mark Chittick. 

“Craig Thornton is over there (Sydney) with Ashley Handley looking after the horses and I thought Craig really did us proud when he was interviewed after the race. Ashley is a young lady with a huge future in the industry and is doing a fantastic job. And what Craig has done in racing is hard to beat. He’s won races as a jockey in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, America, and Japan. You’d struggle to get a better horseman than him and you can’t win Epsom’s unless everything is 100 percent plus.”

The win continued a meteoric rise to the top for Jamie Richards, and Ellis is fully aware of his talents.

“I’m really running out of words to describe the job that he’s doing,” Ellis said. “He’s a great human being, great New Zealander, and incredible to have already trained 34 Group 1 winners for someone so young. It’s mind-blowing stuff and he has an enormous capacity and ability to oversee the whole operation.

“It’s the continuation of a remarkable year for our owners at Te Akau Racing. It started, winning both Karaka Million races in January, two Group 1 races in half an hour in February at Randwick, and two Group 1 wins the following Saturday at Ellerslie. Unfortunately, we then had to close the stable down due to Covid when we had a lot of horses ready to step out and race.

“I’m thrilled for the owners that have backed Te Akau, and backed my judgement, and it’s so pleasing to see that support being rewarded. It doesn’t matter how good a job Jamie does, or how good the team is, if we don’t have the owners we can’t achieve these results. They are the most important component and without owners we haven’t got an industry.”

Ellis said a decision about where Probabeel races next will be made between the owners, Henry Plumptre and Richards.

“Henry and Brendan will sit down with Jamie and see how she comes through the race then we’ll come up with a plan,” he said. “She’s entered for all the big races, so everything is on the table.

“I know Probabeel was caught a bit wide in the run but I thought she could still win with 52.5 kgs. You can spend a bit of petrol if you’ve got a light weight, whereas you can’t if you’re carrying plenty. She killed them in the finish and won easily. 

“She’s a brilliant mare and it’s a big thrill to see our Karaka Million winners: Melody Belle, Avantage and Probabeel, all training on to win great Group 1 races as older horses. We never push two-year-olds, allowing them to tell us what they’re capable of doing. We give them the opportunity, but without pressure and I think that’s the secret. 

“Melody Belle won the Windsor Park Plate for the third year in a row on Saturday and the fourth consecutive time after Gingernuts won in 2017. She’s only two Group 1 wins off the all-time record of Sunline (13) and it will be interesting to see what happens. 

“It was a very proud day for us to win the Windsor Park Plate four years in a row, because Nelson & Rodney Schick have been two of Te Akau’s biggest supporters. They do a great job and it’s great to see these studs putting money back into racing.

“It’s very exciting for everyone involved, going forward. We started the year with Mark Walker winning the premiership for us in Singapore, we won the premiership here in NZ, and it’s been quite freakish to keep the run of top quality winners going.”

Probabeel was strapped by Ashley Handley. 

Photo credit – www.justhorseracing.com

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