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Te Akau Shark Huge in Cox Plate

27 Oct 2019

Te Akau Shark Huge in Cox Plate

Te Akau Shark (5 g Rip Van Winkle – Bak da Chief, by Chief Bearhart) carried both the tangerine silks and the hopes of New Zealand in the $5 million W. S. Cox Plate (Gr. 1, 2040m) on Saturday at Moonee Valley, Melbourne, coming away with a grand performance for third.

With little option from the outside barrier (14), other than drop back to last, stable rider Opie Bosson bided his time before opting for an inside run approaching the 600m. It was a move that proved its worth, as gaps continued to open near the rail and he finished strongly for third.

The race was won by Japanese trained, race favourite, Lys Gracieux, a six-year-old mare by Heart’s Cry. By New Zealand bred stallion Dundeel (High Chaparral), three-year-old colt Castelvecchio finished second, and Te Akau Shark ($16.50 & $4.00) was next to cross the line.

“I’m really proud of him and stoked for the great group of owners we’ve got involved in the horse,” said trainer Jamie Richards. “Opie (Bosson) just gave him a 10 out of 10 ride. He said he got left a little bit flat-footed down the side and decided to stay in and it was the difference between running third and midfield. So, we’re on the up. 

“We’re looking forward to getting him home and giving him a break. Bring him back here (Australia) in the autumn and hopefully here (Moonee Valley) this time next year.”

Asked to explain his emotions while watching the race, Richards said: “I was pretty gutted after the barrier draw, so my expectations were fairly realistic. But, it worked out so nice for the horse to stay inside and get that good run up the fence.

“It’s time to give the horse a break. He feels his runs a little bit, because he puts so much into them and he deserves a nice break now.”

Going into the race having finished second in the Epsom Handicap (Gr. 1, 1600m) on 5 October at Randwick, his five wins, three seconds and a third from 10 starts has earned $904,268 in prize money, for owners Steve Mace, David Ellis, Paul Gallen, Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM, Greg Taylor, Chris Russell, Matt Allenby, Wayne Knight, Ruth Redwood, William Thrupp, Jim & Pauline Hepburn, Donna & Robert Rudd, Karyn Young and Lisette Wilson.

Out of Waikato Cup (Gr. 2, 2400m) winner Bak da Chief (Chief Bearhart), from a terrific Hollinshead-bred family, Te Akau Shark was purchased by David Ellis for $230,000 at the New Zealand Bloodstock 2016 Ready to Run Sale, from the draft of Lyndhurst Farm, and with the 2019 Ready to Run Sale approaching (Nov. 21 – 22) it was fitting to see a graduate race so well in such a sensational sporting event. 

“We put a lot of thought into whether he would run in the Cox Plate or the mile next Saturday at Flemington, and when the weights came out for the mile and he got 58-kilos I knew we’d made the right decision,” Ellis said.

“The horse has been beautifully trained by Jamie, and Craig Thornton who has been looking after him in Melbourne has done a terrific job, plus Ashley Handley who looked after the horse in Sydney. She’s a star too and it’s been a great team effort.

“I’m so thrilled for the owners. They’re a great team of owners that have been so supportive of how we’ve managed him and the horse did such a good job. I’m also proud because it’s a great result for our Ready to Run Sale, which is only three weeks away and we already are shaping our short-list. 

“It was a terrifically cool ride by Opie and the horse was very strong to finish third after being last in the running. It was only his 10thstart and he’s got so much improvement in him. I’m really looking forward to the autumn with him and we’ll get him ready for big races in New Zealand and Australia.

“Running third in these types of races is worth a lot of money (A$375,000) and it’s a terrific result.”

First contested in 1922, the race is named in honour Moonee Valley Racing Club founder William Samuel Cox.

Te Akau Shark was strapped by Craig Thornton.

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