Te Akau Monday Update

Date: 18 Dec 2023

Te Akau Monday Update

David writes:

What a great day of racing it was at Te Rapa on Saturday for Sky City Hamilton Waikato Cup Day. It was a sell-out crowd, with a terrific atmosphere everywhere on course, and really great racing.

It was an enormous thrill to win the first race on the day with the exciting 2YO Move to Strike, a colt that I bought from Gerry Harvey's Baramul Stud for A$525,000 at the January 2023 Magic Millions' sale.

One of two colts in our 2023 colt syndicate, I was delighted to see him win on debut for his owners. However perhaps even more memorable was the fact that Move to Strike gave our stable rider Opie Bosson ONZM his 2000th winner in New Zealand alone.

What an incredible achievement and what a huge thrill for the whole Te Akau team to see Opie ride his 2000th winner in the tangerine!

Opie first came to work at Te Akau Racing when he was 14 years of age, and it has been a very happy relationship from that day. I will never forget him winning his first race when he was about 16 years old with a Zephyr Bay horse that I had bought cheaply from Australia.

Opie has ridden over 40 Group 1 winners for Te Akau Racing so it has been a great association and friendship. His dynamic wife Emily and their children Max and Honor were on course to celebrate the milestone, it will be a memory they will undoubtedly hold dear for the rest of their lives. A day they will never forget.

Move to Strike was strapped by team member Kohen Collett. Kohen is a young man who has been with Te Akau for about 12 months, he is an absolute champion horseman and a champion young man who will go to the top in our racing industry in years to come. With a great work ethic and attention to detail, you will hear a lot more about Kohen in the future.

One of the many things that I love so much about our industry is seeing the passion that Kohen has for Move to Strike, and our other horses that he cares for. He just absolutely loves the horses and is doing such a great job for Te Akau Racing.

It's been a marvellous week of racing, with winning doubles and trebles - War of Succession and Rue De Rivoli at Rotorua midweek; Glitzy Glory and Devoted at Tauranga on Friday, and then of course Move To Strike, Group 2 winner Campionessa and Fierce Flight on Saturday at Te Rapa and Trentham respectively. To cap it off, a horse that we bought at last year's Ready to Run Sale, Commander, won well at Kranji on Sunday night.

What an unbelievable New Zealand season Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson are having. With only 4.5 months of the season complete, they have already won well over $7 million in prize money in New Zealand and Australia, together with and 13 Group/Listed wins.

These statistics, of which I am very proud, are very impressive and can only be achieved with the dedication of the team members that we have throughout the whole of our organisation. Well done team, these statistics are incredible – especially when you see that in New Zealand alone, 75 winners have been achieved with a strike rate of 4.92.

That is incredible!

Our Melbourne Stable is progressing really well, with our next stage of construction ready to get underway in February, supplying an additional 20 boxes.

Imperatriz has been back in the stable now for nearly two weeks. Our Assistant Trainer Ben Gleeson reports that he is very happy with her and we are really excited about her autumn campaign. 'Berri' will have two races in Melbourne, resuming in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington in February, before she heads back to her happy hunting ground, Moonee Valley, to defend her Group 1 William Reid crown. Safely through that she'll travel to Sydney for the Group 1 TJ Smith.

Have you noticed the massive difference that Entain is making since being involved in New Zealand? Just last week two further Karaka Million bonuses, each worth $200,000, were announced. These will be available for horses offered at the Karaka 2024 yearling sale, and encourage new owners to get involved too.

Well done to all the team at Entain for the incredible job that they are doing for New Zealand racing. yes it is a business and yes it wants to drive that business, but we are the benefactor of its innovation and determination to take racing in this country to the next level.

On Thursday night, I went with our daughter Julia-Rose to the re-opening at Ellerslie and had a really good walk out on the track with Auckland Thoroughbred Racing (ATR) CEO Paul Wilcox. What an unbelievable job everybody at ATR has done and how exciting is to think that we are only six weeks away for the Karaka Millions' twilight meeting at Ellerslie.

It's going to be a massive night - with its huge investment in increased stakes, it's one of the very best race meetings you could ever attend - fast moving, fun, energised. Every area except some final general admission tickets is well sold out - congratulations and as George Simon would say 'bring it on!'

I was looking at the statistics of the orders of entry to the Karaka Millions over the weekend. It interesting to note that Te Akau has five of the top 12 3YO's for the Karaka 3YO Millions which this season is worth $1.5million.

Sometimes I hear the 'well they are great with two year olds' - yes we are proud that we have had 11 Champion 2YO title winners. However we always handle our young horses with extreme care and patience. We listen to them carefully and ensure that they are not pushed if they are not ready.

All of our seven Karaka Million winners have trained on and gone on to win further stakes' races the next season and beyond, with the exception of Cool Aza Beel - he did progress to win a Group 1 as a 2YO after the Million's but was then retired to stand at stud at Newhaven Park in NSW.

You need to just look at the number of 'older' Te Akau horses over many years that have continued to shine - Distinctly Secret, Melody Belle and Avantage - just a handful of the numerous fine examples of this. Currently horses like 8YO Prise De Fer, runner up in the Group 3 Waikato Cup on the weekend (and who won his Group 1 as a 7YO), multiple Group winner 7YO Aromatic, Group 2 weekend winner 6YO Campionessa - again just a few examples.

My whole life for the next seven weeks is all about the yearling sales and I am immersed in catalogues, studying pedigrees and further reviewing the horses that we have already inspected, that are on my short list.

Today I am already on the road as you read this: we are starting inspecting yearlings entered in the Karaka Sale. We will spend the morning at Henley Park before going to High Line, then the Oaks Stud, followed by Trelawney, and we finish the day at Wentwood Grange.

This is the time of the year that I really enjoy. While it's demanding going around looking at the numbers of yearlings we do, I just love it! Its is also a great chance to catch up with the various studs, many of whom are also major supporters of Te Akau and give us horses to train.

Te Akau Stud still has plenty of grass, really good quality grass. The cattle are thriving and are still putting on 1.6–2kgs a day. Last week we sold 500 lambs to Wilson Hellaby and 80 steers to Greenlea. This has all been done with my sheep and cattle buyer, Alan Radford. Alan has done all my sheep and cattle work since 1979 and is a champion in his arena.

We have final share left in only two horses from the Ready to Run sale.

Our Vanbrugh gelding and the Ace High colt, both very promising, strong, robust characters. Karyn and I really rate them, and she has taken shares in both, so if the shares do not sell, we will be more than happy to be racing these two with the owners who have already bought shares. They are cracking types.

They are both in the stable in full training right now and are getting ready to trial end of January/start of February, so you won't be waiting long for racing action!

Have a great week ahead and ... GO THE TANGERINE!!

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