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Te Akau’s Incredible Year in Review – January 2020

16 May 2020

Te Akau’s Incredible Year in Review – January 2020



It’s been an amazing season for Te Akau in New Zealand – with Jamie Richards and the team leading the way – in coming weeks, join us on our reflection of every remarkable month ….

1 January – Trainer Jamie Richards hatched a plan for Prise De Fer (4 g Savabeel – Foiled, by Snippets) after he completed a hat-trick in the Dunstan Feeds Championship Qualifier (Rating 82, 1500 metres) in December at Ellerslie, to return for the $100,000 Rich Hill Mile (Gr. 2, 1600m).

A decision that certainly paid dividends for owners in the Te Akau En Garde Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).  Extending beautifully at the business end of his races, Prise De Fer was no different in the renowned cut-throat mile and despite drawing wide (13) he overcame adversity under a brilliant ride by Mick Dee to quicken clear and deliver comprehensively by two lengths.

With five wins and placed three times from 11 starts, Prise De Fer was purchased by David Ellis for $100,000, from the draft of Trelawney Stud, at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale. 


1 January – Also at Ellerslie, last start Eulogy Stakes (Gr. 3, 1600m) winner Lilikoi (3 f Charm Spirit – Barbadine, by Giant’s Causeway), bred and owned by Sir Peter Vela, finished third under James McDonald in the Royal Stakes (Gr. 2, 2000m).

While attempting a hat-trick, Star Of Bombay  (3 f Atlante – Astardia, by Starcraft) stepped up in class to finish third in the Auckland Guineas (Gr. 2, 1600m).

Owned by the Te Akau Bombay Star Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), Star Of Bombay was bought by David Ellis for $50,000 at the 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale.

Later in the day at Ellerslie, Savy Yong Blonk  (4 m Savabeel – Ampin, by Pins) ran a terrific race for second in the City of Auckland Cup (Gr. 3, 2400m) for owner-breeders Bill and Jim Gartshore.

1 January – At Hastings, Pokuru’s Gift  (4 g Rock ‘N’ Pop – Pokuru Boxer, by Stravinsky), ridden by Roy Kozaki, made it two from five when both dwarfing and blitzing his rivals in the Rating 65 1100 metres.

Bred and owned by Ian Farrelly, Pokuru’s Gift is from the second crop of Waikato Stud stallion Rock ‘N’ Pop (Fastnet Rock), purchased by David Ellis to win the 2000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m) for the Te Akau Rock ‘N’ Pop Syndicate.


1 January – ‘Good things come to those who wait’ rang true for owners in the Te Akau Galway Girl Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM) when Spirit of Galway (4 m Rip Van Winkle – Galway, by Savabeel) staged an unbelievable performance in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series Maiden 1400 metres.

A mare that made things tricky by getting back in races, Spirit of Galway appeared to have blown her chances when six lengths off the second last horse through the early stages, but in the end she won for fun under Te Akau apprentice Chelsea Burdan.

“It’s a great way to start 2020,” said David Ellis. “Prise De Fer was outstanding at Ellerslie. Pokuru’s Gift at Hastings, owned by one of my best pals, Ian Farrelly, and Spirit of Galway, one of the unluckiest horses we’ve had not to win a race finally broke through with a huge win at Hastings, too, and we had three horses also placed in stakes races at Ellerslie. It was a great day.”


2 January – Although burdened with 60-kilos, Byzantine  (4 g Savabeel – Baradevi, by Volksraad) carried on his winning way in the 72 1300 metres at Tauranga.

Notching his fourth win from 11 starts for the Te Akau 2017 Breeding Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), Byzantine, ridden by Opie Bosson, was effectively in a perfect position outside the leader, given the overall time (1:19.3) was sedentary, before quickening home in a slick 33.5 for the last 600m. 


3 January – From one of the legendary thoroughbred families in New Zealand, High Achiever (3 g Pins – Thee Achiever, by O’Reilly) confirmed his ability with a debut win in the Maiden 3YO 1200 metres at Te Aroha.

Bred by the Dennis brothers (Tony, Joe, Martin and Ray Dennis) and owned by the Te Akau High Achievers Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), High Achiever was purchased by David Ellis for $100,000 at the 2018 Karaka Book 1 Sale, from the Milan Park draft.

“I’ve been to the Dennis brother’s farm in Southland,” Ellis said. “It’s a beautiful property and very, very well farmed. They do everything extremely well with their horses and they’ve had huge success. I bought him from Tony Rider’s Milan Park draft. He’s an up and coming breeder in New Zealand, and starting to have terrific success with his horses. He gives Te Akau Racing a lot of support and has a couple of beautiful fillies in the stable.”


4 January – Trainer Jamie Richards sent two horses to Awapuni, and they both won. 

Probabeel  (3 f Savabeel – Far Fetched, by Pins) was a class above her rivals in the 3YO 1400 metres. She had been freshened since finishing second in the Flight Stakes (Gr. 1, 1600m), following a second in the Tea Rose Stakes (Gr. 2, 1400m) and fourth in the Furious Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m) during the Princess Series at Randwick, Sydney.

Owned by Brendan Lindsay MNZM & Jo Lindsay at Cambridge Stud, Probabeel was purchased by David Ellis for $380,000, from the draft of Waikato Stud, at the 2018 Karaka Book 1 Sale.

“I purchased Probabeel to syndicate and two days later Brendan and Jo came and bought her outright, which is great, and not only are they having a hell of a lot of fun but she’s become an immensely valuable filly,” Ellis said. 


4 January – Building a record around his trademark toughness, Weaponry (4 g Declaration of War – Cat Shmea, by Felix the Cat) recorded his fifth win from 10 starts for the Te Akau Weaponry Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM) in the Rating 82 1600 metres.

Weaponry was purchased by David Ellis for $140,000 at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale, from the draft of Curraghmore Stud.

“The horse was bred by friends of ours, Shelley Frost and her late mother (Raewyn Ramage) at Braided River Thoroughbreds,” Ellis said. “They have been brilliant people to train for, as too is Curraghmore Stud, who have always supported us with horses to train and do they a great job preparing horses for the sales.”

Both Probabeel and Weaponry were ridden by Opie Bosson. 


7 January – After capping two seconds and a smart win at the trials, Phantom Witness  (3 g Star Witness – Fandom, by Rock of Gibraltar) followed suit with a debut victory in the Maiden 1200 metres at Matamata.

Owned by the Te Akau Phantom Witness Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), he was purchased by David Ellis for $60,000 at the 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale, from the draft of Lyndhurst Farm.

A naturally athletic type, Phantom Witness is by Star Witness (Starcraft), a Group One winner over 1200 metres, while his dam, Fandom (Rock of Gibraltar), won twice to 1200 metres. He has a strong pedigree, with a Danehill cross on the dam side of Star Witness and as the sire of Rock of Gibraltar. 

The win by Phantom Witness continued a terrific run for premiership leading trainer Jamie Richards, with 29 wins in five weeks, at a strike of 3.2, and 66 wins overall this season. 


9 January – Well related Xplosion (3 f Showcasing – Xpress, by Don Eduardo) recorded a richly deserved victory in the Maiden 1340 metres at Wanganui.

The year younger sister to Wakefield Stakes (Gr. 2, 1200m) winner Xpression, who finished second to Te Akau Champion Two-Year-Old Avantage (Fastnet Rock) in the Gold Trail Stakes (Gr. 3, 1200m) and third in the 1000 Guineas (Gr. 1, 1600m), Xplosion was freshened after a spring campaign that included fifth in the Canterbury Belle Stakes (Listed, 1200 metres).

Xplosion was purchased by David Ellis for $115,000 after the 2018 Karaka Book 2 Sale, from the draft of Nala Park, and owned by Te Akau Xplosive Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).


9 January – Also at Wanganui, a filly improving with racing, Zouluminous (3 f Zoustar – Luminous Harmony, by Fastnet Rock), proved far too good in the Maiden 1600 metres.

Beginning smartly to lead, Zouluminous travelled comfortably under Craig Grylls, had the opposition doing their best approaching the home turn, and looked in no danger when drawing clear inside the 200m to win comprehensively by four lengths. 

Owned by the Te Akau Shining Light Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), Zouluminous was purchased for $230,000 by David Ellis, from the draft of Rosemont Stud, at the 2018 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale. Her dam, Luminous Harmony (Fastnet Rock), won four races to 1400 metres in Australia, a sister to highly talented dual Group Three winner Neena Rock, and left three individual winners. 

It was another good day for trainer Jamie Richards, winning with both Zouluminous and Xplosion (Showcasing), while Irish Heart (O’Reilly) and Ristretto (Makfi) finished second and third, respectively. All four were ridden by Craig Grylls.


11 January – Karaka Million 3YO Classic (Restricted Listed, 1600m) and Wellington Guineas (Gr. 2, 1400m) winner Scott Base  (5 g Dalghar – Extra Celestial, by Danehill Dancer) overcame a wide draw (12) to finish third in the Anniversary Handicap (Gr. 3, 1600m) at Trentham.

Owned by Chris Rutten, John Norwood, and Joanna & John Frew, Scott Base was also the most recent winner of Te Akau (prior to lockdown) when providing trainer Jamie Richards with his 99th success this season in the Japan Trophy (Gr. 2, 1600m) on 23 March Tauranga.


15 January – Given a lovely trip in the trail by Opie Bosson, Excitonic (3 g Savabeel – Bint Piavonic, by Encosta De Lago) delivered emphatically in the Maiden 1400 metres at Rotorua.

Having run the fastest last 600m (34.6) when closing solidly for second in the Maiden 1200 metres on 27 December at New Plymouth, the step in distance appeared ideal and once angled clear for the short run home he quickened appreciably to win by two lengths.

“He was very impressive, today,” Bosson said. “He jumped, put himself in the race quite easily and did everything right. Once I angled him out and balanced him up, he hit the line really well. I was impressed with him.”

Purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis for $230,000 from the draft of Brighthill Farm at the 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock Book1 Karaka Sale, he is owned by the Te Akau Excitonic Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).


17 January – Subsequent Karaka Million 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m) winner Cool Aza Beel  (2 c Savabeel – Cool ‘N’ Sassy, by Testa Rossa) was a very short commodity ($1.10) to deliver in the 2YO at Tauranga.

Having won the first two-year-old race of the season, over 800 metres in September at Wanganui, and freshened after an unlucky fourth in the Fasttrack Insurance 5K Bonus 2YO Stakes (Listed, 1100m) on 23 November at Pukekohe, Cool Aza Beel tracked a slow tempo in fourth and clicked up to run home in 34.4 for the last 600m (fastest on the day).  The win set up an opportunity for rider by Opie Bosson to notch his fourth consecutive victory in the Karaka Million.

Purchased by David Ellis for $150,000 at the 2019 Karaka Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Fairdale Stud, Cool Aza Beel is owned by the Te Akau Sassy Beel Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).


18 January – Just the two for trainer Jamie Richards on Wellington Cup Day at Trentham, and they both won.

There was an air of inevitability about Festivity  (3 f I Am Invincible – Mabsam, by Stratum) winning the 3YO 1200 metres, much the same as Cool Aza Beel (Savabeel) the day beforehand at Tauranga.

Having spaced her rivals when winning on debut in December at Taupo, expectations were high and she met them in stylish fashion. With the speed to negate an awkward barrier (7), Festivity travelled best to the 300m before quickening clear to put the race in safekeeping under rider Michael McNab. 

The smart filly is now two from two. A $410,000 purchase by Te Akau principal David Ellis at the 2018 Karaka Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Windsor Park Stud, she is owned by the Te Akau 2018 Fabulous Fillies’ Breeding Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).


18 January – Thoroughbred racing worldwide draws a massive television audience, but like all live sport the ultimate is witnessing it in the flesh, and the Telegraph (Gr. 1, 1200m) victory by Avantage  (4 m Fastnet Rock – Asavant, by Zabeel) was one of those special moments.

A high-class and quality athlete, Avantage had all the right attributes to win the Telegraph, but drew the outside barrier (13) and it took both a courageous and brilliant ride by Opie Bosson to get the job done.

Bosson, who last season surpassed Hall of Fame jockey Lance O’Sullivan for the record number of Group One wins, notched his 69th(now 76) at the elite level and it was surely one of his very best. Driving the mare into midfield amidst potential carnage, he was able to steady Avantage immediately and when presented in the straight she sprinted hard to win.

David Ellis purchased Avantage as  yearling for $210,000 at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Sale, and the flying filly is owned by the Te Akau Avantage Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM). To put a price on her current broodmare value would be in the millions.


20 January – Continuing on from a terrific weekend, Spirit of Galway  (4 m Rip Van Winkle – Galway, by Savabeel) registered back-to-back wins in the Rating 65 1400 metres at Otaki.

Spirit of Galway kept the march going for premiership leading trainer Jamie Richards who had prepared 36 winners in seven weeks at a strike rate of 3.4 – quite incredible.

Purchased by David Ellis for $100,000 at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale, for owners in the Te Akau Galway Girl Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), Spirit of Galway had staged an unbelievable performance to win thePearl Series Maiden 1400 metres on 1 January at Hastings, and aided again by a genuine tempo when coming from off the pace under rider Ryan Elliot.


25 January – History had awaited Melody Belle (Commands) in October at Hastings, when victory in the Livamol Classic (Gr. 1, 2040m) saw her become the first Triple Crown winner, as it did for Cool Aza Beel (Savabeel) and Probabeel (Savabeel) on Karaka Million night at Ellerslie – and boy did they deliver.

Timing is everything and Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards got it dead-right to win his fourth consecutive $1m Karaka Million 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m) when Cool Aza Beel  (2 c Savabeel – Cool ‘N’ Sassy, by Testa Rossa) beat 12 rivals in the 13thrunning if the event.

Away well before steadying to fourth, Cool Aza Beel ranged three wide round the home turn, sprinted to lead at the 300m and was far too strong when getting clear of race favourite Play That Song (Showcasing) inside the final furlong.  A drifter in betting, Cool Aza Beel paid $8.90 & $1.90 on the NZ TAB tote after running the 1200 metres in 1:10.5, last 600m in 35.1, and winning by one and a half lengths. 

Securing a four-peat in the iconic race for Te Akau, following Horse of the Year Melody Belle (Commands), Champion Two-Year-Old Avantage (Fastnet Rock), and Probabeel (Savabeel), Cool Aza Beel gave rider Opie Bosson a place history and emulated NZ jockey Shane Dye who famously rode four consecutive Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m) winners, 1989 – 92, aboard Courtza (Pompeii Court), Canny Lad (Bletchingly), Tierce (Victory Prince), and Burst (Marauding).

Purchased by David Ellis for $150,000 at the 2019 Karaka Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Fairdale Stud, Cool Aza Beel is owned by the Te Akau Sassy Beel Syndicate (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).


25 January – In a race that looked hers for the taking, Probabeel (3 f Savabeel – Far Fetched, by Pins) made history in the $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic (Restricted Listed, 1600m) when becoming the first horse to win the race a year after winning the $1m Karaka Million 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m).

An incredible filly, Probabeel started at prohibitive odds ($1.60 & $1.10) but showed just how good she really is when coming from 12thand sprinting widest round the home turn in a commanding performance.

Owned by Brendan Lindsay MNZM & Jo Lindsay at Cambridge Stud, Probabeel was purchased by David Ellis for $380,000, from the draft of Waikato Stud, at the 2018 Karaka Book 1 Sale. She has won six from 15 and $1.7m in prize money. 



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