Te Akau Horses & Humans Shine

Date: 5 Sep 2022

Te Akau Horses & Humans Shine

 

Te Akau Racing, claiming its 13th Premiership title, understandably proved dominant winners at the New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards, for 2021-22, on Sunday night in Hamilton.

 

At the black tie event which included a three-course dinner, attended by around 400 people, Te Akau figured, by winning outright or having a hand, in 15 of the 21 awards.

One that brought tears to the eyes of many was the award for Champion Apprentice, won by Joe Kamaruddin, and possibly the most heartfelt, given his forthright comments, was the awards for both Jockey Premiership and Champion Jockey won by Michael McNab, who accredited much of his success to the guidance of David Ellis.

 

 

While some winners picked themselves by weight of numbers, a majority were decided by a judging panel of 60, made up of media, administration, officials, and stakeholders.

Trainers' Premiership: Jamie Richards

Trainer of the Year: Jamie Richards

 

 

Although leaving  to take up a training role in Hong Kong with four months of the season remaining, Richards had enough of a buffer to win his third consecutive Premiership, with 117 domestic wins and a record $6.1 million in prize money.

Richards found his niche training horses and, incredibly, turned out over 750 winners in six years with Te Akau: an unequivocal 53 Group 1 winners among 152 stakes' victories, including 16 stakes' wins (6 Group 1) in Australia.

He won the Newcomer to Training Award in 2019, while aged 30 he became the youngest recipient of the Champion Trainer award.

In January 2021, he completed the fastest training century in New Zealand, bettering the previous record by nearly three months and ended the season with a record-breaking 160 wins, including 40 stakes' wins (15 Group 1).

Unable to attend the awards, but beamed in from Hong Kong, Richards said: “It's a great honour to be receiving the award for Champion Trainer, sponsored by Dunstan, and a big thank you to Dave Smith and his team, who put a lot into racing and a lot in Te Akau as the main feed supplier.

“A big thank you to everyone at Te Akau: Dave and Karyn for buying and syndicating such lovely horses, which is instrumental in our success.

“The jockeys that rode for us and in particular Opie (Bosson), the owners that support us, and all the hard working team there at the coalface: rain, hail, or shine, thank you to all of you.

“Also, the vets, farriers, office staff, everyone at Te Akau Stud, it's a big operation and we all worked very well together.

“It's a big privilege to receive the award, and, once again, the Karaka Million was a highlight in what has been a successful night for us before the sales. Noverre's win in the 2000 Guineas, The Perfect Pink following up a week later in the 1000 Guineas, and also Probabeel.”

The trophies were accepted by his father, Paul Richards, who added: “Jamie will get the job done in Hong Kong with sheer determination, like he did at Te Akau.

“He gets to know his horses, is one-hundred percent dedicated, and he has a great mind.”

Apprentice Jockeys' Premiership: Joe Kamaruddin

 

 

During a season that included his 100thcareer win, since beginning in 2019, he rode 62 winners to finish fifth in the overall premiership, while subsequent tied Te Akau NZB Filly of the Year Belle En Rouge (Burgundy) provided his first of four stakes' victories when winning last December in the Eulogy Stakes (Gr. 3, 1600m).

Kamaruddin made a significant impact in the tally of Jamie Richards this season, notching 10 wins in January alone, while rewarding Mark Walker with his first stakes' success on return as Te Akau trainer when Amalfi Prince (Sebring) won the Manawatu Classic (Gr. 3, 2000m) in April.

“I want to say thank you to my boss, David Ellis, and Jamie Richards and Mark Walker, who support me, and thank you to all the trainers and owners, and my partner (Nardia Zainal) who always supports me,” Kamaruddin said.

New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year: Belle En Rouge and Self Obsession

 

 

Resulting an incredible outcome when winning the New Zealand Oaks (Gr. 1, 2400m), Belle En Rouge (3 f Burgundy - Cavendish Belle, by Thorn Park) tied with stable-mate Self Obsession (3 f Shocking - Mawaakib, by O'Reilly) in the NZB Filly of the Year Series.

Belle En Rouge, after winning the Eight Carat Classic (Gr. 2, 1600m), plus thirds in the 1000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) and Soliloquy Stakes (Gr. 3, 1400m), led with three races of the 11-leg series remaining.

However, victory by Self Obsession (Shocking) in the Lowland Stakes (Gr. 2, 2100m), after wins in the Royal Stakes (Gr. 2, 2000m) and the David & Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic (Gr. 2, 2000m) put her ahead prior to the Oaks, but a one-two finish in of favour Belle En Rouge tied them with 31 points apiece.

Not ending there for Te Akau, 1000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) winner The Perfect Pink (Savabeel) finished third in Filly of the Year, Imperatriz (I Am Invincible) grabbed fourth, and Shepherd's Delight (Rip Van Winkle) was fifth.

Owned by the Te Akau Beautiful in Red Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), Belle En Rouge was bred by David Ellis CNZM & Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM, and Self Obsession was bred and owned by David Price and Jenny Chapman, in Hong Kong, while born and raised at Hallmark Stud, with Mark and Vicki Baker.

“To have bred Belle En Rouge on the farm and to have my farm team and the senior stable team here tonight is one of the biggest thrills that anyone could ever have,” said David Ellis, when receiving the trophy for the eighth Te Akau Filly of the Year winners in the past 15 years.

“It's the most prestigious award that there is in New Zealand for a filly and we love targeting these races that New Zealand Bloodstock has very kindly supported.”

Accepting on behalf of David Price, Mark Baker told of a difficult start for Self Obsession, when losing her mother at birth and securing a foster mum with the help of Mark Chittick at Waikato Stud.

“She always had a magnificent temperament, plenty of size and scope, and used herself well,” Baker said.

“David (Ellis) and our family go a long way back, and dad (Denny Baker) broke in David's first Group One winner (Cosmetique) in 1986.”

Champion Two-Year-Old: Maven Belle

 

 

Another Te Akau homebred filly, Maven Belle (2 f Burgundy - Doyenne, by Kilimanjaro) was, like Belle En Rouge, syndicated amongst Te Akau owners as a weanling and is raced by the Te Akau Maven Belle Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).

With size, quality, class, presence, and the temperament to match, Maven Belle packed plenty into a 12-week campaign that took her from debut winner to Group One queen.

She quickened clear for a smart debut win over subsequent Wellesley Stakes (Listed, 1100m) winning stable-mate Hanalei (Darci Brahma) when debuting on 3 January at Te Aroha.

Her second start resulted in a stakes' victory, when primed and ready she won the Platinum Homes 2YO Classic (Gr. 3, 1200m) on Legends Day (12 Feb.) at Te Rapa.

On 26 February at Matamata, she became the seventh Matamata Breeders' Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m) winner for Te Akau, drawing clear to win easing down by two and a half lengths in a exceptional performance.

Tops again when finishing third in the Sistema Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m) on 13 March at Ellerslie, she made it four wins from five starts in the Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes (Gr. 1, 1400m) on 2 April at Awapuni, becoming the seventh Sires' Produce Stakes winner for the stable and fifth in a row, while providing Mark Walker his first Group One winner on return as Te Akau trainer.

“She was a gorgeous filly and one of four weanlings we syndicated amongst our owners, and what a result that's been,” said Karyn Fenton-Ellis, accepting the trophy.

“I was quite gobsmacked when she won her first race in the manner in which she did, and, arguably, could have been unbeaten.”

“Winning the Sires' was a special thrill, because Mark (Walker) came to work for David when he was 17 years of age and they've had a happy marriage ever since. And, of course, Jamie Richards did a phenomenal job with her too.”

Champion Three-Year-Old: Imperatriz

 

 

Boasting terrific pedigree, Imperatriz (3 f I Am Invincible - Berimbau, by Shamardal) included the Eclipse Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m) when winning both starts as a two-year-old, while at three she ended her campaign with back-to-back Group One victories.

Purchased by David Ellis CNZM at the Gold Coast Yearling Sale 2020, from the draft of Bhima Thoroughbreds, and owned by the Te Akau Invincible Empress Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), Imperatriz lives up to the 'empress' title from which her name translates.

Her condition was clearly evident winning the Lisa Chittick Plate (1400m) by five lengths in February at Matamata, drawing unique praise from Champion Jockey Michael McNab: “I haven't ridden a horse like that before. That was just a gallop and I didn't even have to push her. Wow that was impressive.”

After the electrifying win at Matamata, Imperatriz led home another Te Akau first four in the Levin Classic (Gr. 1, 1600m) on Oaks Day (19 Mar.) at Trentham, and capped it by winning the NZ Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes (Gr. 1, 1600m) in April at Te Rapa, with victory continuing a dream resumption as Te Akau trainer for Mark Walker.

Unbeaten in two starts this season, most recently by over five lengths in the Foxbridge Plate (Gr. 2, 1200m), Imperatriz has now recorded two victories at Group One, Two, and Three levels, nine from 12 in total, and as Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM pointed out, she was the last yearling to sell in her year and you just never know where the next champion lies.

“She is quite a sensational filly, actually, because she does everything asked of her and just seems to take the next step,” said Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM, accepting the trophy.

“She beat the older mares fair and square, and the best thing is that we like to see these girls train on, so to do what she did in the Foxbridge Plate was just sensational.”

NZ Stablehand of the Year: Nicole Shailer

 

 

Representing the Northern area, Te Akau foreman Nicole Shailer was one of three finalists, and made it consecutive wins for the stable after Ashley Handley claimed the prize last year.

Nicole is recognised as a senior staff member at Te Akau, known for her genuine love of horses, going the extra mile for their care and wellbeing, and being generous with her time and imparting advice to help others learn.

“I just have to make sure the horses are safe and sound, every day of the week,” she said. “I've looked after Gingernuts, Probabeel, Avantage, Melody Belle, Maven Belle, and I've been really lucky to work with some top horses.

“I love horses and looking forward to the next thrill of the best horse coming through the stable.”

SENZ NZ Horse of the Year: Probabeel

Champion Middle Distance Horse: Probabeel

Owner of the Year: Brendan Lindsay MNZM & Jo Lindsay (Cambridge Stud)

Owners' Premiership: Brendan Lindsay MNZM & Jo Lindsay (Cambridge Stud)

 

 

Reigning Horse of the Year Probabeel (5 m Savabeel - Far Fetched, by Pins), like former Te Akau stable-mate Melody Belle (Commands), was named Horse of the Year for the second time.

Winner of four Group One races in Australia, Probabeel was purchased on spec by David Ellis CNZM for $380,000 as a yearling at Karaka, from the draft of Waikato Stud, is owned by Brendan & Jo Lindsay, and remains the only horse to win the Karaka Million 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m) and Karaka Million 3YO Classic (Restricted Listed, 1600m) double.

She won 13 of 29 starts, placed eight times, topped NZ$4.6 million prize money, and retired in February after winning the Geoffrey Bellmaine Stakes (Gr. 3, 1200m) at Caulfield.

“To win like she has in Australia, it is a different level and it promotes our brand as breeders, promotes our industry, and everything that we do together,” said Brendan Lindsay.

“To have a horse that has taken Jo and I on such a journey, that people know was bred in New Zealand, trained by Jamie Richards, looked after by Ashley (Handley), and Opie (Bosson) rode in her first Australian Group One in the Surround Stakes, it is good, as Kiwis, to go over and beat them.”

Probabeel is preparing to mate with Cambridge Stud stallion Almanzor (Wootten Bassett), sire of Te Akau bought and trained Dynastic, who became the sixth consecutive Karaka Million 2YO winner for the stable in January at Ellerslie.

“We'll never sell any progeny of Probabeel,” Lindsay added. “If they're good enough, they'll race in the yellow and black colours. That's the legacy she can leave for New Zealand racing.”

Finally, the fact that Te Akau enjoyed such success with both the horses they train and the people that help tap their potential, emphasises not only a cohesive and well run business but one in which the racing industry can be proud of and that others can aspire to.

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