Te Akau Ready for Riccarton Challenge

Date: 12 Apr 2024

Te Akau Ready for Riccarton Challenge


NZ Racing News reports:


With the curtain coming down on the racing career of Te Akau Racing’s 10-time Group One winner Imperatriz yesterday, they are now looking forward to unveiling their next future star, which could very well come at Riccarton on Saturday.

Homebred gelding Nucleozor (main picture) has been faultless in his two starts to date, winning both outings in convincing fashion, and has been duly installed a $1.40 for the Listed Riccarton Park Functon Centre Welcome Stakes (1000m) this weekend.

“He has been impressive in his two starts and Hunter (Durrant, Te Akau’s Riccarton stable foreman) and the team are pretty happy with him,” said Sam Bergerson, who trains the gelding in partnership with Mark Walker.

“He has gone the right way since his last start victory. He meets a similar field to the previous race and he looks a really nice chance come Saturday. There is a bit of rain forecast, which will make it interesting, but hopefully his class will shine through.”

Nucleozor has got the better of stablemate Discretion Rules in their two meetings to date, and Bergerson said the forecast rain should help even the scales between the pair on Saturday, where Discretion Rules is rated a $5.50 second favourite behind his stablemate.

“He is another one Hunter is happy with and I think the rain levels them up a little bit,” Bergerson said. “He should get through it, but whether Nucelozor will like it we will know on Saturday. We think it will aid Discretion Rules’ chances.”

Later on the card, Te Akau Racing will have a four-pronged attacked in the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1600m), courtesy of Sense Of Timing, Mazzucato, Tranquilla, and Lady Of Court.

“They are pretty friendless in the market and there are a couple of handy ones in there coming down from the north,” Bergerson said.

“I think the step up to a mile really suits Sense Of Timing. She got a long way back in the three-year-old 1400m last time and was really strong through the line. They probably didn’t go that hard early and the first and second placegetter kicked off the front and held on, but she was really good late.

“Mazzucato keeps improving, she wasn’t far away last time. Lady Of Court, I think the step up to a mile suits her as well. I think she ran the fastest last 200m in that three-year-old race.

“Tranquilla, I thought it was a very good win last start. Any rain about will aid her chances, she will definitely get through it, and it even probably helps her.

“We have four nice each way chances and hopefully a few of them can sneak some black-type.”

Further north, Te Akau will also have a couple of stakes contenders at Otaki’s meeting on Saturday, including Aris Aris in the Listed City Of Napier Sprint (1200m).

“I thought she was really good at Tauranga on really testing ground, and if the forecast is right, she will get back to there again,” Bergerson said.

“The goal with her is black-type and it would be great to get that for the ownership group because they have been really good clients to Te Akau for a long time. She looks to have a real chance with a nice, light weight and Wiremu (Pinn) on, who is riding in fantastic form.”

Elegant Lady will also be seeking stakes success in the Listed Hawke’s Bay Cup (2200m).

“Any rain around for her really helps her,” Bergerson said. “I think it is quite an even race on paper.

“She had no luck last time in the (South Island) Thoroughbred Breeders’ (Gr.3, 1600m) down there (Riccarton).

“The step-up to 2200m really suits her. She has travelled up well and she is staying at Dad’s (Roydon Bergerson) in Palmerston North. She licked the bowl clean last night and has done plenty of travelling and has stayed at Dad’s a couple of times before. She is another one that can hopefully get a bit more black-type.”

Bergerson is also looking forward to kicking off the career of two-year-old filly Star Shadow in the McMillan Equine Feeds 2YO (1300m) for Fortuna Syndicates.

She has placed in all five of her trials to date, and Bergerson is hopeful she can bring that form to her debut outing where she will be ridden by Wiremu Pinn.

“She has aways shown us a bit,” Bergerson said. “She has had plenty of trials now so is well equipped to go to the races.

“She finds a field that is very light on numbers, so hopefully she has found the right race for her debut – 1300m on a testing track. She goes down there in good order and we think she will handle the track well, she seems to have a really good brain and is coping with stable life very well.”

Fellow juvenile stablemates Viva Glam and Cantatrice also have Bergerson excited ahead of racing at Te Rapa on Sunday where they line-up in the Five Stags Leamington 2YO (1100m).

Viva Glam placed over 1050m when on debut at Matamata last month, while Cantatrice will make her raceday debut following her 950m trial win at Tauranga a fortnight ago.

“I am looking forward to the two-year-old race,” Bergerson said. “It is another weather watch with that meeting, but Viva Glam has shown that she likes heavy ground, so we are confident of her running another nice race.

“I am really looking forward to Cantatrice kicking off, she has trialled really well.”

Meanwhile, Bergerson said it was a bittersweet moment on Thursday when Te Akau Racing announced the retirement of Imperatriz, with the trans-Tasman team glad to end her career in a healthy and happy state following her brilliant career.

“It is sad, but in saying that we have retired her sound and happy,” he said. “The vets were saying she is trotting as sound as she ever has but has just got a bit of wear and tear and we are erring on the side of caution. We would hate to see anything happen with her.

“She has done a fantastic job for us and we are so proud of what she was able to achieve, especially over the last few years.

“She went over there (Australia) when we were setting up the Cranbourne base and she really flew the flag for us and did an amazing job.

“Everyone here at home is grateful to be associated with such a wonderful mare. After her retirement was announced yesterday, to see how many people she affected and the following she had was pretty special.

“I am sure she will be a fantastic broodmare. She was just an amazing animal to work with and she was a real privilege to have in the stable. She is an intelligent animal and it will be exciting to see the next chapter with her.”

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