Te Akau Shark on the Hunt
20 Mar 2020
Mitch Cohen of racenet.com reports:
The coronavirus epidemic will keep Jamie Richards grounded across the Tasman but the Kiwi trainer is confident stable star Te Akau Shark can take flight again in Australia in Saturday’s Group I George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.
Richards had to make the decision earlier this week to remain in New Zealand after both Australia and his home country tightened quarantine restrictions to help combat the coronavirus outbreak.
He will instead rely on his team on the ground in Australia to prepare for his latest Group I assault in Sydney.
Richards has already claimed a pair of Group Is during the Sydney Autumn Carnival, with Probabeel winning the Surround Stakes and Te Akau Shark claiming the Chipping Norton Stakes on the same day.
Te Akau Shark will go in search of a hat-trick of Group I victories in the George Ryder this weekend, where he is the $2 favourite with TAB.com.au.
“He is going good and the team are happy with him,” Richards said. “He always takes a few days to bounce through his runs but he has had a good week.
“He worked nicely Saturday and Tuesday and we think he is on track.
“You just have to rely on your staff during times like this. We have got great staff and systems so nothing really has to change.
“We have Opie (Bosson) there as well who knows the horses very well and has been riding them in work. He has a good feel for them so that all has to help.”
Jockey Opie Bosson had to make the mad dash to the airport in New Zealand to arrive in Australia in time to avoid the recently introduced 14-day self isolation protocols earlier this week.
He will link up with Te Akau Shark again in the George Ryder after helping the son of Rip Van Winkle win his first Australian Group I in the Chipping Norton back on February 29 at Randwick.
Te Akau Shark proved he is the real deal when spotting the lead more than 10 lengths before surging home to win the 1600m feature.
“He won well,” Richards said. “He got out to the middle of the track and had a good clear run at them and duly obliged.
“We were certainly very happy with what he did and we are hoping we can produce something similar again on Saturday.
“He will go back in a similar spot from the barrier so we will probably land in a similar spot and won’t be changing his pattern too much.”
Stablemates Probabeel and Melody Belle also remain in Australia after both were beaten but far from disgraced last weekend.
Probabeel was runner-up to rival filly Funstar in the Group II Phar Lap Stakes at Rosehill while Melody Belle finished off well for third in the $5 million All-Star Mile at Caulfield.
“Probabeel is in good shape, bounced through it well and is a good tough filly. She is sound and eating well,” Richards said.
“She is not adept on wet ground but can get away with it.
“Melody Belle arrived up in Sydney on Wednesday morning and has had a few quiet days since then but we are certainly pleased with her.”