Te Akau Tuesday Update

Date: 8 Sep 2020

Te Akau Tuesday Update

David writes:

Congratulations to all the team at the Waikato Racing Club. It was such a thrill to be racing on a good track on Saturday and the Te Akau team were on fire! Well done to CEO Butch Castles and Track Manager Bart Cowan.

Gee, Avantage is an exciting mare! To do what she has done is quite incredible and underlines what a great sire Fastnet Rock is. Especially when mated with Galileo or Zabeel mares. 


To say that Avantage is a special mare is an understatement - she has won Group 1 races at 1200m, 1400m, 1600m and 2000m, and to start her season by winning the Group 2 Valachi Downs Foxbridge Plate is incredible. After her fantastic run on Saturday, given a peach of a ride by Danielle Johnson, Avantage has been in fine spirits. Why? her best friend Melody Belle came home from Australia on Monday and is in the stable right next to her. 


One thing you can bet on with confidence is that those two mares never leave any feed under any circumstances - these girls are great doers!

It was also great to see Prise de Fer, who I rate very highly, run such a good race for third. This horse has a Group 1 race in him for certain! The way he is currently working, it might just be the Livamol at Hawkes Bay - a race that Te Akau Racing has had huge success in previously. 

It was also great to see Need I Say More remain unbeaten, when claiming his second Group 3 title. This gelding has now had three starts for three wins and what an exciting horse he is.  It is not easy to win two Group 3 races and a maiden race from just three starts - this is horse is very professional.

What is interesting about Need I Say More is that I didn't buy him initially at the Karaka Sale - a decision that kept waking me up each night.

After a month of this, I contacted vendor Eion Kemp and purchased him. Having a horse win three from three is just so exciting and Need I Say More will have his next start in the Group 2 Hawkes Bay Guineas. We will then run him in the Group 2 James and Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes at Te Rapa before he goes south to contest the Group 1 NZ 2000 Guineas - a race we have won six times previously.

I was rapt to give jockey Craig Grylls (aboard Need I say more) another Group win in the tangerine.  Craig and his wife Milou (who works for Te Akau Racing) are great people. Craig's father Gary won my first Group 1 race when Cosmetique claimed the Easter Handicap in 1986, beating Waverley Star by a nose! 

Obviously with Te Rapa being behind closed doors, we could not attend the race meeting so Karyn and I, together with daughter Julia-Rose, her husband Hamish and our grand daughter Lucia-Rose, watched at home - with an exciting early Fathers' Day celebration!

We very much enjoyed the extra distance Te Rapa went with additional race days communications across its social media platforms - filling some large gaps that Trackside is left through its withdrawal of on-course presenters. Well done Charlotte.

What a beautiful spring day it has been at Te Akau Stud. It is absolutely magnificent, and it is great to see the grass starting to grow after 13mls of rain yesterday. 

We are all very disappointed to hear that the annual New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Awards dinner in Hamilton has been cancelled. I haven't missed one of these evenings for 25 years and it is great to see the people who have achieved success in the previous season celebrated and recognised. 

However, our Marketing Manager Julia-Rose is already on to Plan B, and is organising a Te Akau Awards' evening. We have some exciting plans coming together so watch this space!

Te Akau Racing has finalists in most of the categories - Champion 2YO, Champion 3YO, Champion Sprinter/Miler and Champion Middle Distance Horse.

In my opinion, it would be very hard to see Melody Belle, who won four Group 1 races last season (three in New Zealand and one in Melbourne), not retain her Champion Horse of the Year crown.

Our stable rider Opie Bosson looks like a hot favourite to be the Champion Jockey of the Year after winning 11 Group 1 races last season, while Jamie Richards was the only finalist nominated for Champion Trainer of the Year.  

I often get asked what was my favourite racing occasion last season, and let me tell you, it is very hard to choose but there were three very special days that will forever stay in my mind. 

The first was when Te Akau Racing won both the Karaka Million Dollar races with Cool Aza Beel and Probabeel. Probabeel also made history that night, as she was the first horse ever to win both the 2YO and 3YO races consecutively. 


Then just a few weeks later we won two Group 1 races in Sydney in half an hour with Probabeel and Te Akau Shark, and Star of Bombay won a Listed race at Ellerslie on the same day. 


And then to top it all off, the last highlight for me was when we backed up the following Saturday, where within an hour at the Barfoot and Thompson Auckland Cup Day at Ellerslie, we had won another two Group 1 races with Avantage and Cool Aza Beel. 

Those were probably a career highlight. It was so rewarding to see our owners have such great success. I just couldn't split those three days of racing; they were incredible. 

With Spring arriving, things really do start to get busy for Te Akau Racing with the arrival of better tracks. I always say that ‘until the plough is open at Matamata, Te Akau never hits its straps.'

We are very fortunate at Matamata to have a world class track manager in Graeme Styles. He does a great job ensuring the facilities are at a high-class standard for us to train our horses - it makes such a huge difference. 

Jamie has had a very busy week with horses trialling at Ellerslie today. Most of them ran very encouragingly. We won both the 2YO trials and it is obvious that we have some very nice 2YOs to race in the very near future. 

I had one of those text messages this morning that really made me a happy man. I had a text from Troy Harris, who is our number one track work rider, which stated that the Exceed and Excel filly now called Excellerina that I bought on the Gold Coast in January gave him a great feel.  Troy is a freak of a judge and when he says that he has found a special horse that is exciting news as he doesn't say it very often. 


Life on the farm is all going very well. We have just about finished lambing, and next week we will be full steam ahead with docking. We have done the 5YO ewes, but all the mixed age ewes and 2-tooths haven't been completed yet. We are also not far away from beginning to sell some of our fat steers. 

The store market was back a bit at the Frankton sale today and Alan Radford, who has done all my buying and selling of stock for over 40 years, was purchasing on my behalf today and bought 30 yearling steers for an average of $855 each. This is great value and they arrived on the farm this afternoon.

It is interesting that our daughter Julia-Rose has just completed a summary of our digital media traffic. This column that I write most weeks has been read by 428,359 people over the past year which is great news - I am glad you are all interested in the Te Akau updates! One thing that really delights me is that people love getting the news on how the sheep and cattle farm is going. 

We have the Matamata races tomorrow, and we have some good chances. It also looks like we are going to get a reasonable track for this time of the year.

Good luck to all our owners and ...



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