Te Akau Duo Ready for Guineas' Challenge

Date: 10 Nov 2023

Te Akau Duo Ready for Guineas' Challenge


Matt Markham for raceform.co.nz (great publication, subscribe now) reports:


Two Guineas chances, two very different pathways to bid for success in the Gr. 1 Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand 2000 Guineas this weekend.

Te Akau trainers Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson will launch a two-pronged attack on the first major target of Cup Week 2023, with Trobriand and Talisker coming into the $600,000 race off very differing preparations.

Trobriand has the traditional South Island preparation under his belt, winning the Guineas Trial in September before a bold second in the War Decree Stakes late last month, while Talisker comes in as one of the real unknowns, having steered clear of the main lead-up races. 

Which method is the best won’t be known until Saturday afternoon, but Sam Bergerson can’t wait to find out.

“Trobriand worked on the course proper this week and the reports from the team were excellent,” he told RaceForm before heading south from his Matamata base.

“He’s pulled up really well and he’s had an excellent preparation, he’s a super horse. I’d love to see him get a nice draw and land a soft run, I think that’s the key to him winning this weekend.”



With full respect to those around them, Bergerson believes there are a lot of factors in their favour for Te Akau to claim its eighth 2000 Guineas victory in the past two decades.

“They’ve got to travel down here and settle in, we’ve been there for weeks now and the horses are loving it – that’s a big plus heading into such a big race.

“We are as ready as we can be and looking forward to it.”

With No. 1 stable hoop Opie Bosson in Melbourne this week for Cup week rides, Michael McNab has been engaged to take the ride on Trobriand, while Sam Weatherley will retain the mount on Talisker.

And while Trobriand is the talk horse of the Te Akau team, it’s Talisker who has been the surprise packet of the spring.

Sent south with no real expectations, more with hope that he might grow up with a trip away, he has pushed his case for Group One glory and shown he deserves his chance.

Starting with a win on the Riccarton synthetic back in August, he backed that up with a strong win at Timaru before an impressive effort to win again over 1300m at Ashburton last month.



“I guess you could call it an unconventional Guineas preparation,” Bergerson said, “but we really didn’t know what to expect from him when we sent him down.

“He’s still got all the tricks up his sleeve, that tendency to do things wrong is still there but he’s been very good at the same time and deserves his shot.

“I’d love to see him relax this weekend, ideally sitting outside Crocetti with something to chase for once, because he’s usually found his way to the lead in his races.”

Talisker will be out to emulate his Cambridge Stud-based sire Embellish, who won the race back in 2017 under Jamie Richards’ training.

“We think the step up in distance to the mile should help him a lot and while we know it’s a big step up, you can only beat what is in front of you. He’s done it pretty nicely so there’s more to see with him, we think.”


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