Te Akau Monday Update

Date: 19 Oct 2020

Te Akau Monday Update

David writes:

Saturday was a day full of success, and it all began at Ellerslie with the announcement by the Auckland Racing Club of its annual racing awards for the 2019/2020 season. 

We were super proud to learn that our gun 2YO, Karaka Million and Group 1 Sistema Stakes' winner Cool Aza Beel has been crowned 2019/20 Ellerslie Horse of the Year, as judged by an invited panel of racing media and officials.

Te Akau New Zealand trainer Jamie Richards was named 2019/20 Ellerslie Trainer of the Year while our stable jockey Opie Bosson carried off the 2019/20 Ellerslie Jockey of the Year title.

To cap these awards off, Probabeel's Karaka 3YO Million victory was voted by the public as Most Outstanding Performance of the Year at Ellerslie.

What a thrill for the whole team. And what a great day of racing it was at Ellerslie too for Great Northern day! I am elated that my very dear friend Peter Grieve and his son Doug, race the winner of the Great Northern Hurdles. Such a big thrill for them both to win that time-honoured event! 


On a bittersweet note however, I learned that this meeting was the first Great Northern event that my good friend Colin Jillings has missed in 75 years. He has been in hospital recovering from hip surgery - what a great racing legend this man is!

On Friday, Karyn and I travelled to the Hawkes' Bay with some good friends, as well as our daughter Julia-Rose and her husband Hamish, for the final leg of Hawkes' Bay Racing's Triple Crown - the Group 1 Livamol Stakes.

Before we prepared for the Group 1 however, we saw Richard of Yorke fight on boldly over the hurdles to finish runner up at Ellerslie. Then it was time for our Dissident gelding Challa, who I purchased from Karaka, to step out at Hastings and record back to back wins - I thought he was very impressive.


Jamie and the team have done a wonderful job in bringing Challa through to this level. He was stakes' placed and three times a runner up as a two year old but just needed some time after a small set-back. A very patient approach by Jamie, embraced by Challa's owners, has seen this horse start to fulfil the promise we always knew he possessed.

It was very special to have Greg, Jamie's uncle who is involved in Challa, together with one of his friends and co-owner Alan, fly all the way from Central Otago to be on course to enjoy the win. Thank you so much Greg and Alan for coming to support the team at Hawke's Bay. 

Wasn't it just brilliant to see our apprentice jockey Joe Kamaruddin have a win in the tangerine aboard Challa? Joe is a young man who is a very important part of the team - he is always happy and is a very hard worker! He deserved the win and we were thrilled it came for him on a premier day.


Karyn and I then got a massive thrill out of watching the Group 1 Livamol Classic and seeing the magnificent effort from both Melody Belle and Avantage who quinellaed the race. Just as they did a fortnight ago in the Group 1 Windsor Park Plate. Well done to winning rider Troy Harris - your dedication is truly paying off. Danielle Johnson and Opie Bosson rode Avantage and Prise De Fer respectively and both horses gave it their all.


Both Melody Belle and Avantage won the Karaka 2YO Million and both have won Group races as 2YO's, 3YO's, 4YO's and 5YO's, and now Melody Belle is winning titles as a 6YO mare - both having also won Group races in Australia.  Both were the Champion 2YO of their season as well.

After Melody Belle won the Karaka 2YO Million, she went on to claim the Group 2 Sires' Produce Stakes in Brisbane - and she hasn't stopped winning trans-Tasman Group races since - Saturday was Group 1 win number 12 for Melody Belle. 

Melody Belle will now head back to Australia on a 'hit and run' mission to contest the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes. She was mighty unlucky when finishing second to Magic Wand last year so there is some unfinished business for her. Avantage will have a freshen up and get ready for the Group 1 Railway and then on to defend her Group 1 Telegraph crown. Prise De Fer, all going well, will have the Group 1 Captain Cook in his sights.



While he didn't come in the top three placings, we are very pleased with the way Prise De Fer raced on Saturday and he is probably more a 1600m horse. However, this son of Savabeel has an extremely bright future ahead of him, and I can certainly see Prise De Fer winning more races this season. 

Weight For Age (WFA) racing is perfect for a good horse like Melody Belle. I was explaining to several friends how it was impossible to see her getting beaten under WFA conditions. However, if the Livamol had been a handicap race, she probably would have carried 65kgs while Avantage would likely have carried about 60kgs and Prise De Fer around 57kgs. So, you can see that a WFA race is just tailor made for these top class horses.

Even though the track came up as a slow 7, I still thought it raced well and gave most horses every chance. 

Karyn and I also want to mention how great it was to be part of the race day at Hastings. Club Chairman Eliot Cooper and CEO Darin Balcombe and the Hawkes' Bay team delivered a wonderful carnival. The huge effort they invested was clear for everyone to see.

The boards of these racing clubs dedicate huge time and effort into racing administration and we are extremely fortunate that they do it all for the love of the industry, the love horse racing and the love of being involved. These board members do not get paid and the industry just couldn't function without these volunteers - unsung heroes.

Less than twenty-four hours after Jamie Richards quinellaed the Group 1 at Hastings, he was back in the winner's circle with Cornflower Blue, who won the Group 3 Barneswood Farm Stakes (1400m) in Ashburton on Sunday.


This is a fantastic lead up race for the Group 1 NZ 2000 and 1000 Guineas at Riccarton. Te Akau has won this race seven times (eight if you include one relegation) and I can think of several Te Akau horses who won this race and then went on to Cup week victory - for example 2000 Guineas' winner King's Chapel, as well as King's Rose and Costa Viva who both won the 1000 Guineas.

Jamie travelled down south last week to look at Cornflower Blue and thought she needed a good gallop. So he took her down to Ashburton last Wednesday and gallop she did - that decision was the winning of the Group 3 race in my opinion. It was also another beautiful ride from Danielle Johnson too, who is in her career best form too.

Cornflower Blue became our 35th New Zealand winner for the season (we have had two Group wins in Australia too) - and our eighth stakes' race. Jamie leads the Trainers' Premiership by 21 wins and is closing in on being the first trainer to win $1 million in stakes domestically for the season. If we include our Australian prize money earned this season, we have now won $1.6 million for our owners already - with only two and a half months of the season completed.

I have included the New Zealand Trainers' Premiership table as I thought you would be interested in seeing the fantastic start to our season.


  Wins2nds3rdsStakesStartsG & LSR
1Jamie Richards352618$891,14517064.86
2Michael & Matthew Pitman14139$215,6009206.57
3Stephen Marsh131120$262,890218016.77
4Kelvin Tyler & Aimee Tyler1383$176,6507205.54
5Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman12168$281,07510819
6Tony Pike11911$177,3206906.27
7Allan Sharrock1183$204,3504714.27
8Kevin Myers101615$261,835126012.6
9Ken Rae & Krystal Williams-Tuhoro1057$176,1206916.9
10Peter & Dawn Williams967$91,4653904.33
11Brian & Shane Anderton838$91,2356508.13
12Team Rogerson71310$200,240148021.14
13Terri Rae763$94,7603705.29
14Richard Collett721$92,7251802.57
15Stephen Autridge & Kris Shailer6114$113,6255208.67
16Nigel Tiley653$130,2705609.33
17Lance O'Sullivan & Andrew Scott652$69,5503706.17
18Andrew Carston647$78,60286014.33
19Stephen Ralph644$122,60071011.83
20Fraser Auret643$62,4904307.17

It is very exciting that we have ‘Weigh In' returning to our screens, with the first episode going to air on Trackside 1 at 8pm tonight. We are very lucky in New Zealand to have two world-class broadcasters in Emily Bosson and Mick Guerin (who is also the Executive Producer) who will be co-hosting the programme.  Other specialist broadcasters such as Luke Radich will also be part of the team across its season.

With the change in the Racing Act, the responsibility for developing and delivering these types of programmes is now left to the codes and clearly with the pandemic that we have had, our code has been reluctant to spend money on television programmes. 

We were determined to see that change and it will from 8pm tonight.

Karyn and I felt that it was important to showcase news within our industry. For example, when a young trainer or jockey wins their first Group 1 race, or a breeder has some spectacular success, we need to have a platform where they can be interviewed and their achievements applauded.

These stories need to be told and it is great that we now have a new Weigh In season that is committed to a minimum of 30 episodes. We can also confirm that there will additionally be the equivalent of a ‘Kiwi Bred' series and programmes leading into the Karaka Yearling Sale. 

This will help make Trackside more interesting (and with a New Zealand racing focus), and I would like to personally thank the TAB's GM Broadcasting and Operations Edward Rennell, and TAB Head of Production Alan Barnes for working closely with me to return Weigh In to our screens and digital platforms. Their help in ensuring these programmes are up and running has been great. 

However to the sponsors who have come on board and supported my quest - thank you for your amazing passion and investment in making this all happen - Auckland Racing Club, Cambridge Stud, Waikato Stud, Windsor Park Stud, Westbury Stud, New Zealand Bloodstock, Dunstan Horse Feeds, Haunui Farm, Milan Park, Jamieson Park, JML Bloodstock, Little Avondale Stud, Rich Hill Stud, Waikato Equine, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, Majestic Horse Floats, Te Akau Racing and two private sponsors.

These are the good guys who have made the return of Weigh In happen!

My focus for the next four weeks is to now concentrate on the Ready to Run sale, which is taking place at the New Zealand Bloodstock complex at Karaka in mid-November.

Te Akau has had so much success with horses purchased at these sales e.g. Group 1 winners Gingernuts, Te Akau Shark and Hall of Fame, and if you are interested in investing in a Ready to Run two year old, please feel free to give me a call - 021 925 151.


Tomorrow morning, we are sending our first load of steers to Greenlea. It is always an exciting time when we start moving cattle off the farm and we will be sending cattle every week now for the next three months. I am impressed with their condition and look forward to seeing their weights when they come in. 

I have to say, one of the biggest thrills in the Hawke's Bay was seeing the rain that the region received last week. Gee, it really is dry down there! I was happy that most areas received 50mls, as they really needed it. Now I really hope we get more rain in the Waikato this week as has been forecast.

Have a great week everyone, and ...
GO THE TANGERINE at Matamata on Wednesday!


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