Black-type races at Hastings and Pukekohe this weekend have seen the Te Akau training partnership of Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards form a powerful two-pronged team for the Gr. 1 Livamol Classic on Saturday week.
A day after last season’s New Zealand Derby and Rosehill Guineas winner Gingernuts finished over the top of six other individual Group One winners for a superb victory in the Windsor Park Plate at Hastings, imported Irish-bred stayer Chance To Dance made his New Zealand debut a winning one with a powerful performance in this afternoon’s $50,000 Listed Haunui Farm Karaka Classic at Pukekohe.
The 60-kilogram topweight in today’s 1600-metre feature, Chance To Dance was ridden by Opie Bosson in the colours of John Galvin’s Fortuna syndicates which were carried to a black-type treble last season by champion two-year-old Melody Belle.
Chance To Dance settled around halfway back in the 14-horse field in the early part of the race as Admiral set a solid pace in an attempt to repeat his bold front-running Karaka Classic victory of 12 months ago.
After producing a kick at the top of the straight, Admiral was swallowed up around the 250-metre mark by former Hong Kong galloper Brilliant Shine and the unheralded local gelding Waipipi Lad. Just as that pair appeared to have the finish all to themselves, Chance To Dance dived through between them and snatched a $12.50 upset win by a long head.
The win saw Chance To Dance shorten to $7 equal second favouritism with Mime and Volkstok’n’barrell for the 2040-metre Livamol Classic at Hastings on October 7. Last year’s Livamol Classic winner Willie Cazals was a fast-finishing third in the Karaka Classic in his final lead-up before his Hastings heroics.
The $2 favourite is Gingernuts, with Autridge and Richards now leaning strongly towards the Livamol in preference to a clash with Winx in the Turnbull Stakes in Melbourne.
“Chance To Dance will go to the Livamol now and Gingernuts is heading that way too, so we could have a pretty strong hand in the race,” Richards told www.theinformant.co.nz.
“Chance To Dance had a fair bit against him today, first-up over 1600 metres on a heavy track and with a big weight, and he had only had a quiet trial to prepare him. He won it very well. He’s a lovely horse and great to have around the stable.
“It’s great for the owners – John has brought in a lot of people who are new to the game. This win for them today, plus yesterday with Gingernuts, that’s what racing’s all about.”
Chance To Dance has now won eight of his 29 starts and more than $480,000 in prize-money.
Today’s win was a welcome one for Galvin and the Fortuna Chance To Dance Syndicate, who have had a roller-coaster ride since the son of Teofilo was purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis at the Chairman’s Sale in Sydney just under six months ago.
He crossed the line in second place in the Sydney Cup before it was declared a no-race due to a fatal breakdown during the first lap.
“We bought him about 10 days before the first running of the Sydney Cup,” Galvin recalled. “He was a Lloyd Williams cast-off, if you like. Mark Walker recommended we take a close look at him and we decided to buy him.
“We all know what happened in the Sydney Cup, the race was abandoned, and then he ran in it again two weeks later and finished fifth.
“The plan was always to bring him back to New Zealand and race here during the spring, then perhaps campaign in Australia again after that.
“He’s won first-up before in Melbourne and he’s a class horse. He’d been working with Gingernuts and he hasn’t given him an inch in their trackwork. He was a bit vulnerable today with his weight, but he is a quality horse.
“Jamie said to me a moment ago that the bad news is that Gingernuts is now likely to go to the Livamol too. I don’t see why that’s bad news – we’re happy to take Gingernuts on.”