Te Akau Seeks Riccarton Rewards on Saturday

Date: 11 Sep 2020

Te Akau Seeks Riccarton Rewards on Saturday

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Team Te Akau will take an important step toward their spring goals in the South Island when stepping out five runners at Riccarton on Saturday.

Trainer Jamie Richards hopes it's a case of well-travelled Age Of Fire (main picture) returning to his happy place when he heads to the scene of his runner-up effort in the 2017 edition of the Gr. 1 2000 Guineas.

“He is coming down here because in our minds his best form is in the South Island, particularly when he ran in the 2000 Guineas,” the trainer said.

“We are setting him for the Coupland's Mile and we are looking forward to getting his campaign underway.”

Age Of Fire will be a long way from Australia, where most of his recent races have been.  And it has been a long time since the horse last won, when he triumphed in the Gr. 1 Levin Classic in January 2018.

Richards wants to get the horse's confidence back with an encouraging performance on Saturday.

“He is coming up well, he has been off the scene for a little while. He has been gelded and he was ready to go before lockdown. I just want to see him enjoy his experience and enjoy being back at the races and hopefully if we can get inside his head we can get him going.”

Age Of Fire steps out against a talented bunch over 1200m, which is expected to be too short for him. However, Richards wants to see him go a strong race, as the horse is now being redirected towards a 1600m target.

Aotea Lad will follow a similar path back to Riccarton on Saturday when he starts alongside Age Of Fire. The four-year-old has only had one start since running last in last year's 2000 Guineas, after which he pulled up sore. 

“He had been off the scene for a long time, he had a few soreness issues as a three-year-old and we gave him a long spell in the autumn,” Richards said.

It's been a case of so far, so good ahead of Aotea Lad travelling south.

“We have brought him up nice and quietly and he does appear to be going well. Whatever he will does, he will improve on and up to 1400m in his next start will suit him better.”

Aotea Lad heads south with the benefit of one post-lockdown run when fifth over 1100m at Taupo last month.

Summer Monsoon also has a run under his belt after having little hope when getting too far back over 1300m at the same Taupo meeting. The six-year-old can improve when he steps out over 1400m on Saturday.

“He probably wanted slightly better ground than he got at Taupo.

“He is a pretty tricky horse to ride, if you put him too close to the speed he won't finish off. You have just got to find a happy medium for him and he is a horse that needs everything to go his way.

“But when he does get it - his win at Cromwell was great last year - and if he can recapture that form as an older horse it should stand him in good stead.”

Markus Aurelius is another of the Richards team that has had one run before heading south.

And it was a good one, when running on to be less than three lengths behind the winner, One Prize One Goal, at Taupo over 1300m. Stepping up to 1400m on the big Riccarton track looks ideal for the Ghibellines galloper.

“He is a big long striding horse that has been caught out on tight-turning tracks a few times.

“We have got sick of waiting on the ground to improve so we have sent him down nice and early. He is racing for good stakes and hopefully he is on the way to better races.”

Richards will also start Mazzuro over 1600m, which is expected to be well short of his best distance.

“He is probably in the need of the run, he will appreciate the outing and should strip fitter second-up.”

Mazzuro holds a nomination for the New Zealand Cup in November. - credit Jonny Turner


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