Te Akau's 8th Listed Welcome Stakes

Date: 10 Nov 2022

Te Akau's 8th Listed Welcome Stakes


Securing its eighth victory in the time-honoured $80,000 Riccarton Park Function Centre Welcome Stakes (Listed, 1000m), Sky On Fire (2 f Exceed and Excel - Elusive Meteor) led home a Te Akau trifecta on 9 November at Riccarton.

Although presumptuous to expect the trifecta in a stakes' race, Te Akau has achieved the feat on numerous occasions, and the same three were simply emulating their previous starts.

Whereas Sky On Fire beat Rubicon Crossing (Rubick) and Rhetorical (Snitzel), the Pearl Series 2YO 800 metres on 22 October had gone the way of Rhetorical, ahead of Sky On Fire and Rubicon Crossing.

Ridden by visiting Australian jockey Josh Parr, who won the Metropolitan Trophy (Listed, 2500m) aboard stable-mate Campionessa (Contributer) last Saturday at Riccarton, Sky On Fire was expected to lead, which she did at a genuine bat, with Rubicon Crossing to her outside, and Rhetorical camped on their heels.

Never appearing in danger of being headed, she ran out a good winner with three-quarters of a length margins separating the first three.

“I was comfortable in front and confident in her ability to run that kind of speed and still produce a turn of foot,” Parr said.

“I got a feel for her on Monday morning and that gave me a nice lead in to today.

“Admittedly, we went along at a strong clip and it would have been nice to get half a second breather.

“But all credit to the team, they got this horse here in great order and I'm the one lucky enough to win on her.”



On Good4 footing, Sky On ran 1000 metres in 58.2, last 600m in 34.4, and shortened to return $2.30 & $1.20 on the NZ TAB tote.

“I'm proud of all three of them and they ran great races,” said trainer Mark Walker, who prepared the first Welcome Stakes winner for the stable, Maroofity (Maroof), in 2002.

“They all deserve a bit of a holiday now at Te Akau Stud, and a stakes' win and being stakes' placed certainly helps their pedigrees.

“They've all got a future in races back home, like the Matamata Breeders' Stakes, to prepare them for.”

Owned by Te Akau Magic Fillies Breeding Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), Sky On Fire was purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $400,000 in January at the 2022 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, from the draft of Eureka Stud.



“It was a rarity being able to buy an Exceed And Excel filly, as most breeders keep them, and now she's a stakes' winner at her third start so it's a very exciting outcome for the owners.

“Exceed and Excel has been sensational stallion for a long time, globally.

“We loved her as a type, and she has a great constitution. She was very well developed, with plenty of natural muscle, rich colour, a terrifically athletic walk and she was a cracking first foal which we have had so much success with.

“Sky On Fire is part of a fillies' breeding syndicate and the other filly, Superbly Written (Written Tycoon), is also showing a lot of promise.

“I thought all three fillies ran with credit and huge thanks to Mark Walker and the staff for having them in such good nick.

“We've won the race with horses like Maroofity and Avonello, really good horses that have gone on to win Group One races and be named Champions of their seasons and it's always been a great race.

“Of course, it's great for the value of all three fillies and we couldn't have wished for a better result.”

Te Akau's previous winners were: Maroofity (2002), Xbert (2005), Encosta Diablo (2009), Bespoke (2012), Sassy 'N' Smart (2015), Al Hasa (2017) and Avonello (2020).

The Welcome Stakes was first run in 1879, and the experienced Josh Parr (35) has ridden over 1000 winners including nine at Group One level.



Sky On Fire was strapped Olivia Hill.


Photo credit - www.raceimages.co.nz & Canterbury Jockey Club


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