Te Akau on Southern Stakes' Hunt

Date: 21 Mar 2024

Te Akau on Southern Stakes' Hunt

NZ Racing News reports:

Te Akau Racing mare Elegant Lady (NZ) (Highly Recommended) will look to build on her burgeoning South Island record when contesting the Gr.3 Valachi Downs South Island Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton Park on Saturday.

A daughter of Highly Recommended, Elegant Lady has been a model of consistency since first appearing for Te Akau’s Riccarton stable in the spring, producing three wins and a further five minor placings, including finishing runner-up last start in the Listed Dunedin Gold Cup (2400m) to Shockallia (NZ) (Shocking).

Sam Bergerson trains the promising four-year-old in partnership with Mark Walker, and has been impressed with her near faultless season.

“We gave her a freshen-up after the Dunedin Gold Cup, she’s in great form down there and seems to be really enjoying the South Island,” he said.

“She had an exhibition gallop with Perfect Scenario last Thursday at Ashburton and she’s working super.

“She’s more suited to the 2000-2400m trips, but we’ve kept her really fresh for the mile, and her form over 1600m is good. She’s a very honest mare with a nice draw and Parmar on, I’m sure she can run a real race, and hopefully sneak a bit more black-type.”

Apprenticed to the Matamata trainers, jockey Niranjan Parmar will partner Elegant Lady in the feature, while he will have a first raceday ride aboard Nucleozor (NZ) (Almanzor) in the Entain – NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1000m).

The exciting Almanzor juvenile made a big impression with a sizzling victory on debut at Wingatui, and alongside stablemate Discretion Rules (Alabama Express), are hopefuls for the upcoming Listed Welcome Stakes (1000m) and Listed Berkley Stud Champagne Stakes (1200m).

“Nucleozor was super impressive over the 820m to rattle off those sectionals late, stepping up to the 1000m will suit,” Bergerson said. “He’s got a sticky gate (8) but from the 1000m on the dog-leg, it shouldn’t matter too much.

“I thought Discretion Rules’ run at Wingatui was good, he tried well and putting the blinkers on since has seemed to sharpen him up. It was hard to split them at trackwork on Tuesday. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was right there on Saturday.”

Further stakes opportunities also beckon for Sense of Timing (NZ) (Time Test), Mazzucato (NZ) (Tivaci) and Lady Of Court (NZ) (Savabeel), as the trio contest the Peterson’s Jewellers Ladies Bracelet Three-Year-Old (1400m) following their second, sixth and eighth placed finishes in the Listed NZB Airfreight Stakes (1400m).

“Sense Of Timing was good late in the Airfreight Stakes, we’ve tried to keep her fresh for the 1400m but she’s probably looking forward to getting to the mile,” Bergerson said.

“Mazzucato is a funny horse, she’ll put in a rattler of a race, then was a touch plain at Wingatui after receiving a nice run. We’ll look to ride her a bit colder out the back and settle, she doesn’t seem to enjoy running on speed.

“Lady Of Court had no luck in the messy Wingatui race with the riderless horse, she didn’t get much room up the straight and probably would’ve been a lot closer.”

In-form topweight Perfect Scenario (NZ) headlines a strong undercard for Te Akau, the Iffraaj six-year-old benefitting from Donovan Cooper’s four-kilogram claim in the Johnny Fresh Darfield & Yaldhurst Open Sprint (1400m).

“He’s right up in the handicaps now, so it is pretty tough for him in a race like this, but we’ve got four kilos off. There are some handy gallopers at the bottom of the book, but he’s in really good form,” Bergerson said.

“The Canterbury Gold Cup (Gr.3, 2000m) is there in three weeks, but we would have to jump from 1400m to 2000m, so we’ll get through Saturday and go from there.”

Progressive mares Caravella (NZ) (Caravaggio) and Stella Splendida (NZ) (Zoustar) will go head-to-head again in the Selwyn Rakaia Vet Services Rating 75 (1200m), the former having the better of her stablemate at the identical trip a fortnight ago.

“Caravella hit the front pretty early last time, and the other mare came at her and she kicked back again. She should get a lovely run in behind the speed,” Bergerson said.

“Stella Splendida meets her a lot better off in the weights this time, she’ll be ridden a bit colder and go for the one final run. I wouldn’t be surprised to see any one of them winning, they are very hard to split.

“Sorcha will be fresh-up in this so she may need the run out of a sticky gate, but she trialled well on Tuesday. Hopefully she can get some cover from out wide down the chute.”


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