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Autridge and Richards lay claim to trainers' premiership
29 Jul 2016

With just two days of the 2015-16 racing season remaining, Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards are able to lay claim to the trainers’ premiership.

In their first full season training together, the Te Akau Racing duo have prepared 104 winners for stakes of $2,156,100 and a strike-rate of 5.32. Ten of the Matamata-based stable’s winners were in black-type races and four of them – Xtravagant (2), Risque and Heroic Valour – were at Group One.

Cambridge partners Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, who took the 2014-15 premiership with a record 114 wins, are five wins adrift of Autridge and Richards, who have no further starters this season. With only three runners listed for the final two racedays of the season, Baker and Forsman will be unable to overhaul the table toppers.

“We’ve been doing the sums for a while now and we worked it out earlier in the week that we had the premiership sewn up,” Autridge told this morning. “It’s been a year of highlights, but if I was to single out the very best of them out, they would have to be during Cup week in Christchurch when we won both Guineas races with Xtravagant and Risque, then when Xtravagant overcame all the uncertainty and won the NRM Sprint at Te Rapa, and Heroic Valour’s gutsy win in the Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie.

“Group Ones are never easy, so to get four of them, top the century in overall wins and now be able to claim the premiership - it could hardly be more satisfying than that.”

Training premierships are not fresh territory for Autridge, who claimed three when training in partnership with Graeme Rogerson, but for Jamie Richards it is a whole new experience.

Along with Autridge he was appointed only 15 months ago by Te Akau principal David Ellis to take the helm of the New Zealand operation and now to find himself a premiership winner is the stuff of dreams.

“When I joined Te Akau three years ago I had no idea where it would take me,” admitted Richards, who at age 26 is New Zealand’s youngest premiership-winning trainer. He took that mantle from predecessor Mark Walker, who was 31 when he claimed his first of five New Zealand titles in 2003-04.

“But thanks to everyone in the organisation and all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, here we are, somewhere that I never thought possible in such a short space of time.

“I couldn’t have achieved any of it without David and his decision along with Mark to put their faith in me. We have lovely horses that they’ve bought and syndicated to work with and it’s very satisfying to get these results.”

This latest title takes to six the number of trainers’ premierships won by Te Akau New Zealand, to which Walker has added the 2015 Singapore trainers’ title.

“It’s a phenomenal achievement and I believe the first time it has ever been done, for the same operation to win premierships in two counties in the same year,” commented David Ellis.

“These sorts of results only come about through massive commitment and incredible hard work and dedication. I must be the proudest guy in the world today.”

Dennis Ryan

The Informant