Te Akau Monday Update

Date: 12 Feb 2024

Te Akau Monday Update

David writes:

What a great day the team had on Saturday, winning four of the first six races at Riccarton, finishing second in another in between, as well as recording a further runner up placing later in the programme.

Te Akau has an incredible strike rate with our horses from our southern base: we have recorded 21 wins at a strike rate of 3.6 this season at Riccarton alone - and 37 wins at a strike rate of 3.2 this season across the South Island, having recently notched 100 wins to remain in sync with the ratio of winners that saw us set a new domestic record last season of 203.

Our senior southern foreman Hunter Durrant and our team are doing a superb job from our Christchurch base, working with our trainers Mark and Sam. It's a really great complement to our Matamata stable, and is certainly delivering exciting results.

We were also proud of the efforts of our team at Te Rapa on Legends' Day on Saturday - what a terrific day especially having our own 'living legend' Gingernuts being invited on course to celebrate the day. Thank you Faith for having him look so wonderful on the day, and of course for accompanying him one the outing! 

We were so proud to see Jerry (as we know him) take centre stage in the parade ring before our Group 2 David and Karyn Ellis Fillies' Classic that we have sponsored since 2020. He got quite excited and we reckon he thought it was 'game on', he so loved his racing career and getting out and competing.

I thought Quintessa ran a huge race for fourth in the Group 1 BCD Sprint against the older horses. She really showed a dazzling turn of foot and our Group 1 Levin Classic winner of this season has now earned her ticket to Australia. She will head there on 21 February in pursuit of highly valuable Australian black type.  Her travel companion will be Campionessa, our Group 1 Zabeel Classic winner, as she returns to Australian soil, likewise looking to add Australian success to her CV.

Speaking of Campionessa, wasn't she so game running second to Legarto in the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes - her third Group 1 runner up placing!  I bought Campionessa for A$60,000 at the Magic Millions' sale - she has now won 10 races, earning $1.05 million for her proud owners.

Legarto is part owned by Tony Enting who was General Manager of the Waikato Racing Club when Herbie Dyke was President of the Club, and also during my time as President. He would have been thrilled that Tony and his wife Mary ran the quinella with Te Akau.

We enjoy racing at Te Rapa as it has a very special place in Karyn's and my hearts - we are both Past Chairmen of the Waikato Racing Club (as it was known then), and are proud Life Members. The late Herbie Dyke was a highly respected and good friend of ours, and we feel privileged to enjoy a close friendship with his sons Steven and Simon and their families. Thanks to their generosity not only is the Herbie Dykes Stakes sponsored in perpetuity to honour the great man, it is also the richest Group 1 WFA race in New Zealand carrying prize money of $600,000.

It was a fantastic day’s racing at Te Rapa on Saturday and it was a blessing that the forecast rain mostly stayed away. Well done to the Board, and especially to Club CEO Butch Castles, track manager Bart Cowan and the rest of the WTR team for putting on such a great day's racing. I've said it before, and I will again: Butch is one of the best racing administrators in the world, in my opinion, so vast is his knowledge of the industry.

Our new yearlings are selling really well and a day doesn’t pass when we don't sell shares to new or existing owners.  We have shares available in an incredible array of high class, promising young horses.. Many owners have told us they find it hard to make up their minds as they are so impressed with the line up - it's as good a quality as you will find anywhere in the world, and available to you now!

I am very proud of the job that our yearling inspection/selection team has done - the thousands of hours of pedigree analysis, research, travel, physical on-farm and sale-ground inspections, veterinary examinations, x-ray assessments, scoping, you name it. I am humble to be part of a team that works so hard, with so much dedication, attention to detail ,and passion for identifying the very best yearlings for our owners to be involved with, and for us to have in our trans-Tasman stables to train.

It's a massive, all-consuming undertaking so thank you again Marcus, Joe, Mark, Sam, Reece and Ben -  and Julia-Rose too for all your social media and marketing management skills. 

Deane, Faith, Amy and our farm crew look after all these new yearlings magnificently from the minute they arrive in their new surroundings at Te Akau Stud.  It's so important to have them settled and happy after the demands of the sale.

To all our incredible team members who always go above and beyond to ensure everything goes to plan - thank you!  Everyone at the stables and the stud plays such an important part in what we achieve.  

Last Friday night we had 6mls of rain at Te Akau Stud and then on Saturday afternoon we had another 5mls – so we have plenty of grass. In fact, it’s probably only been this green four times in the last 25 years in the middle of February.  On Sunday morning we sent a unit of steers to Greenlea and 350 lambs to Wilson Hellaby. So far this season we have killed about 1600 lambs and 1200 steers.

Today we weaned our first paddock of foals. We box them for a week and take them for a walk twice a day, give them a drench and feed them twice daily, then on Friday we put them out into a 35-acre paddock. Then on Monday the next paddock of five comes in.

We are also currently educating the yearlings at the farm, and gosh they are progressing well under the tutelage of Dan Miller, such a talented horseman who was apprenticed to us in his earlier years. The first trio has been in the stable for a few days and taken to everything like ducks to water. It won't be long now until all our sale yearlings begin their formal education! It's such a terrific time of the year as we uncover the potential that lies within each of them.

Finally, I just want to say again what an exciting time it is to be racing horses in New Zealand. Our industry has dynamic leadership, committed to taking it forward. Its actions have spoken louder than its words, and it's getting things done - innovations, increased prize money, you name it, the good news keeps coming.  It needed to, but it has, and we can't wait to be immersed in the next chapter. 

I don't think I have ever seen such momentum and optimism in recent years - it is incredible to see the money we are now racing for in New Zealand and Australia. With stables in BOTH countries, Te Akau is perfectly positioned to make the most of these opportunities for our owners.

Speaking of our Australian operation, work is about to commence on the next stage of our brand new stable at Cranbourne where we currently have 20 horses in training. This will provide an additional capacity for 40 horses, taking the total to 60.  Stage three will get underway towards the end of the year.  

Mark Walker flew to Melbourne yesterday to see Imperatriz gallop at Moonee Valley this morning and he couldn’t have been happier with how she worked. She has her first start for this preparation on Saturday in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington against a small but high class field.

This week we have runners at Taupo on Wednesday, New Plymouth on Friday and Ellerslie in the north, Invercargill in the south, Melbourne 'to the west', and Singapore on Saturday.

Best of luck to all our owners ... GO THE TANGERINE!


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