Te Akau Stake Claim on Tauranga Feature

Date: 21 Mar 2024

Te Akau Stake Claim on Tauranga Feature

NZ Racing News reports:

As Te Akau Racing prepare for a bumper Saturday at The Valley, the domestic stable will saddle two proven performers in an evenly-matched Gr.2 Ultimate Mazda Japan Trophy (1600m) at Tauranga.

Senior galloper Aotea Lad (NZ) (Savabeel) has pleased co-trainer Sam Bergerson with a return to near career-best form of late, highlighted by a narrow third in the Listed Kaimai Stakes (2000m) at Matamata earlier this month.

“He’s rising eight, but he’s near-on career best form at the moment,” said Bergerson , who trains in partnership with Mark Walker.  

This is a horse who won a Group 2 at Trentham on debut and look how he has trained on!

“I thought his run in the Kaimai Stakes was really good, and back to the mile suits, so we gave him a freshen-up following that 2000m race.

“He worked with Cognito and they were hard to split, the good draw (5) gives Gryllsy (Craig Grylls, jockey) a few more options and he gets in well under the set weights and penalties.

The Savabeel seven-year-old will benefit from the services of an in-form Craig Grylls, while Wiremu Pinn will partner stablemate Cognito (So You Think) from an outside draw.

A winner of last season’s Gr.2 Wellington Guineas (1400m), Cognito has continued to perform in stakes company as a four-year-old and Bergerson is hopeful a gear change will assist the gelding’s chances this weekend.

“Going back up to the mile will suit him, he was good at Hastings but probably was just looking for a bit further. We’ve taken the blinkers off him, and hopefully the shadow roll will spark him up a bit,” he said.

“Warren (Kennedy, jockey) just thought he was going through the motions at Hastings, and James McDonald had a similar thought in the Aotearoa Classic ($1 million, 1600m), albeit that was in a very good field.

“On this trackwork at home, he would be a good each-way chance in a relatively even field, and on his day he’s definitely in it.”

The Matamata trainers hope to find success in the opener with promising talent El Viento (NZ), the El Roca three-year-old bettering a strong field in MAAT conditions at just his fourth raceday appearance last start.

“He won well in a pretty sharp field last time out, this field has a few handy gallopers as well, so we’ll know more after the race,” Bergerson said.

“We’re really happy with him, he’s had a bit of time between runs to keep him fresh for the 1400m and eventually I think he’ll get over the mile and possibly further.

“He’s a nice, progressive handicapper for next season, whether this is his last run before a spell, we’ll know after Saturday as he’s a nice horse going forward.”

Te Akau apprentice Jess Allen has enjoyed success aboard the stable’s runners recently and will offer three-kilograms of weight relief for last-start winner Freeze Frame (NZ) (Vadamos) in the Peter Clarke Bayleys Residential 1400.

“He’s another really nice progressive galloper, his win at Matamata was really good after the start before was quite disappointing. We couldn’t find anything wrong with him, but on his run last-start he should be hard to beat,” Bergerson said.

A select six-horse field will assemble for the Triton Pacific Owens Plate, and four-win mare Aris Aris (NZ) (Contributer) is primed for a fifth career victory fresh-up with Allen on board.

“It looks like she’s found the right race on paper, and she gets in really well with the claim in one of the softer Open 1200m races that you’d find,” Bergerson said.

“We gave her a freshen-up after the Rich Hill, she’s come back in really nice order and her trial at Tauranga was good. She’s won at the track before, and she maps to get a lovely run in behind the speed. She’s a good winning chance.”

The Te Akau team kicked the week off on a positive note at Pukekohe on Wednesday, with their sole runner Treaty Of Paris (NZ) (Tavistock) returning to the winner’s circle in the Auckland Co-Op Taxis 2100.

“He had been a bit disappointing prior to Wednesday, so it was great to see him back in the winner’s circle and hopefully that gives him some confidence going forward,” Bergerson said.

“It was a lovely ride by Dean (Parker, jockey), he saved a lot of ground and that was probably the winning of the race.”

Pukekohe’s meeting marked the first high-weight races of the jumps season and Te Akau are chasing early trans-Tasman spoils over the fences with The Mighty Spar (NZ) (Savabeel) as the last start South Waikato Cup (2000m) winner heads for the iconic Warrnambool Carnival.

“Originally we were going to head to the Hawke’s Bay Cup (Listed, 2200m), but he’s on the flight to Melbourne today (Wednesday),” Bergerson said.

“He’ll be steered towards the Warrnambool Carnival, we think he’s quite a good jumper so we’ll head in that direction with him.”

The Savabeel six-year-old travelled to Te Akau’s Cranbourne base with stablemate Certainly (NZ) (Savabeel), as the exciting filly readies for her Australian debut at the Valley.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing Certainly, she’s always been a filly that we’ve had a high opinion of, initially possibly our 1000 Guineas filly, but she’s still very lightly-raced and it’s all in front of her,” Bergerson said. “She’s in really good order and I think she can match it with the best fillies’ there in Melbourne.”


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