Te Akau Shark Bites Off Sydney Group 1
1 Mar 2020
A Group One winner at his previous start, Te Akau Shark (5 g Rip Van Winkle – Bak da Chief, by Chief Bearhart) ramped it up a notch to win the $600,000 TAB Chipping Norton Stakes (Gr. 1, 1600m) on Saturday at Royal Randwick, Sydney.
Hot on the heels of stable-mate Probabeel (Savabeel) winning the $500,000 Heineken 3 Surround Stakes (Gr. 1, 1400m) a race earlier, Te Akau Shark provided trainer Jamie Richards with a Group One double on the biggest stage in Australasia.
Like Probabeel, Te Akau Shark also had a terrific spring campaign in Australia, despite not winning, with a cracking run for second in the Epsom Handicap (Gr. 1, 1600m) at Randwick, before a terrific third in the $5m Cox Plate (Gr. 1, 2040m) at Moonee Valley, and went in search of further Group One glory on the back of a brilliant victory in the BCD Group Sprint (Gr. 1, 1400m) on 8 February at Te Rapa.
Te Akau principal David Ellis purchased Te Akau Shark for $230,000 at the New Zealand Bloodstock 2016 Ready to Run Sale, from the draft of Lyndhurst Farm, for owners Steve Mace, David Ellis, Paul Gallen, Greg Taylor, Chris Russell, Matt Allenby, Wayne Knight, Ruth Redwood, William Thrupp, Jim & Pauline Hepburn, and Donna & Robert Rudd, many of whom reside in Sydney, and now the winner of seven from 12 he has banked $1.3 million.
“It’s hard to describe what this day means to Te Akau, all our owners, and the whole New Zealand racing industry,” said Ellis, on course at Ellerslie, following the win by stable-mate Star Of Bombay (Atlante) in the Mufhasa Fasttrack Stakes (Listed, 1300m).
“Everybody wins from our horses Probabeel and Te Akau Shark winning these Group One races. In Australia, they don’t rate the New Zealand form, but, hello, you’re on a different planet to me.
“Both of these horses went so close to winning Group One races during the spring in Australia, and their unbeaten lead-up form before heading back over was quite unbelievable. You have to take wins on their merits, whether they are in Australia, or New Zealand, and those pundits that didn’t rate it need to have a close look at just how they won. They were exceptional efforts and the reason why they were both strongly supported in overall betting.
“Our (New Zealand) horses punch well above their weight. We have a foal crop under 3,500 while the Australian foal crop is five times that amount. And, this business of the Asian Racing Conference wanting to reduce the status of our Group One and Group Two races is absolute nonsense and today proves that beyond all doubt.
“I’ve said it before that New Zealand is a great country to rear horses. It’s an agricultural country. We’re lucky that we have 50 inches of rain and have it spread of over nine or 10 months of the year.
“I’m extremely proud to be a part of every aspect of horse racing in this country and can’t wait for the government to get things sorted out so that we see this great sport prosper. We have so much going for us when it comes to breeding and racing thoroughbreds in New Zealand, and with the incredible prize money being offered in Australia it makes a lot of sense for people to get involved.
“The tin-tacks of the growth will come about when our foal crops begin to rise again, and the sooner the better.”
For rider Opie Bosson, who extended his Group One total to 74 on the red-letter day, the ride on Te Akau Shark was somewhat a carbon copy of that aboard Probabeel.
Away okay to secure a spot beyond midfield, Te Akau Shark was fair way out of his ground when commencing a run before the 600m but in the end it mattered little as he topped the Randwick rise, mid-straight, with a run that finished in a momentous occasion. He was just too good at the business end and quite stunning at the line.
“It’s hard enough to get a ride here, let along win two Group Ones,” Bosson said. “He’s a lot stronger this time in and he’s so laidback about things too. He doesn’t know how good he actually is. He’s untapped, still.
“He was a little bit flat-footed when they quickened, but once he balances up he keeps driving through those gears. (All the shark hats) it creates a bit of a buzz and it’s great for New Zealand racing too.
“We’ve got a lovely bunch of horses that can come over here and be competitive. It was his first-up run over here, so plenty more to come and just the icing on the cake.”
Sky Racing’s host Greg Radley said: “This is a day that Opie Bosson and Jamie Richards will never forget. Two Group Ones on the card and they’ve got them both. We’re used to a Kiwi doing that, his name’s (Chris) Waller. This bloke’s name’s Richards. He’s a young man and a shooting star.
“He’s something special, isn’t he,” Richards said. “They only went steady (pace) but he was good late and a very, very exciting horse.
“I said to Opie (Bosson), don’t be as far back as you were on Probabeel but he ended back in a sticky spot. But, when he gets onto his outside leg and gets a bit of clear air he can really charge late.
“As I said about Probabeel, before, full credit to the team at home that has sent these horses over in such good order. Ashley Handley that is here looking after them would spend day and night with them if we let her, so a big thank you to her.
“And David Ellis, who bought him at the Ready to Run Sale and got all these wonderful owners involved, hopefully we’re in for an exciting campaign.”
Asked what sets Te Akau Shark apart, Richards said: “He’s got a bit of arrogance about him, a bit grumpy. He’s not a fantastic eater. He’s not a big strong horse with a big barrel on him. He’s pretty lean and mean and he’s got a bit ticker, I think.”
The remaining assignments for Te Akau Shark are the George Ryder Stakes (Gr. 1, 1500m) on 21 March at Rosehill, and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Gr. 1, 2000m) on 11 April at Randwick.
Te Akau Shark was strapped by Ashley Handley.