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Gold Fever making right moves
20 Jul 2017

Matamata Breeders’ Stakes winner Gold Fever will trial next month in preparation for her three-year-old debut.

“We’re extremely pleased with her at this early stage of her preparation,” said Stephen Autridge, who trains with Jamie Richards.

“She’s a lot stronger, grown a touch and mentally she has matured for the spell, because at two she could be on the toe and a bit of a tart around the stables and at the track. 

“This time in she’s a lot better in all respects and we can only hope that it transpires into her race performances as a three-year-old.”

Autridge said Gold Fever is scheduled to trial at Te Rapa on August 15 with her first stakes assignment the Gr. 3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders’ Gold Trail Stakes at Hastings on September 23. 

Grylls ready for new Singapore challenge
20 Jul 2017

New Zealand jockey Craig Grylls has been well-grounded for his introduction to Singapore racing.

His father Gary rode at the old Bukit Timah course in the late 1980s and he has been one of the push factors toward this current move to a new hunting ground.

“I wasn’t born when my dad rode here, but he’s told me all about the place and has always encouraged me to strive to get more riding experience in a different racing jurisdiction, and Singapore was one of them,” Grylls told the Singapore Turf Club.

“I spent three seasons in Australia, in Queensland during the Brisbane winter carnival from 2008 to 2010. I also rode in Macau for three months and rode around eight to nine winners there.

“Singapore was on my radar after Grant Cooksley put the idea in my head a couple of years ago. I made an application last year and it was not successful, but I got accepted this time.

“I’ve also spoken to Michael Coleman about the place. He rode at the old track, but he did ride for one day at Kranji (Singapore Guineas day in 2012) and he also gave me a few pointers.”

A winner of over 700 races in 11 years of riding that began in Te Awamutu, Grylls rode trackwork at Kranji for the first time this week and will debut on raceday this weekend.  

“It’s great to be here. I arrived last Thursday and was at the races last weekend,” said Grylls, whose Swedish wife Milou will join him next month.

“I was really impressed by the racing, the track, the atmosphere. I can’t wait to get on my first rides.

“It’s not a bad start. I’ve got one on Friday night, Always A Winner for Leslie Khoo, and three rides on Sunday - Ninetysevenemperor for Leslie again, Awatere for Mark Walker and Enhancement for James Peters.”

Grylls, who has a three-month contract, has ridden 46 Group and Listed winners, eight at Group One level. His highlights include successes in the Diamond Stakes, Manawatu Sires' Produce, New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes, NRM Sprint, Wellington Cup and the Thorndon Mile.

Before leaving, Grylls sat in eighth position with 64 winners on the New Zealand jockeys’ premiership, one winner clear of 2006 Singapore champion jockey Mark du Plessis.

“Singapore is where I want to focus my career on for now. I want to ride as many winners as possible, and hopefully, I can then extend my contract, we’ll see how it goes.”  

Underthemoonlight on way the bigger things after Tauranga Classic win
26 Jun 2017

Tauranga Classic success for Underthemoonlight has prompted thoughts of bigger prizes for the daughter of El Hermano.

Karyn McQuade trains the mare at Matamata and co-owns with her husband Hamish and Cliff Solomon.

The winner of three before her $50,000 Listed win on Saturday, she was ridden by Cameron Lammas.

"She will have a break now," Hamish McQuade said after her latest success. "But I truly believe she is a Group I horse so long as she can get her toe in the ground."

Saturday's contest was run on a Heavy11 surface which McQuade maintains was not ideal.

"She's not a real wet tracker but she did it well - she won quite easily in the end."

Lammas agreed that the 5-year-old wasn't at home on the heavy track.

"She didn't handle the ground that well," he said. "I've just come out and found a nice bit of ground for her and she's done the job for me."

She did the job by three and a-half lengths from New York Minute with Meursault a further four and a-quarter lengths to southern visitor Meursault running on for third.

Her fourth win was well deserved as luck has deserted her recently.

"She's a fantastic mare," McQuade said. "She's had no luck in her last three starts."

Cambridge trainer Tony Pike couldn't win the Classic with Nomisma who finished near the rear, but there was no such problem with her half-brother Dynamic Eagle in the 3-year-old feature earlier on the card.

The interestingly named race, The Frocked Up Girls 1400 ended up being a cakewalk for the big, strapping son of Guillotine ridden by Michael McNab.

Pre-race, Pike thought the progressive type may have lacked the ringcraft of some of his opposition at just his third start.

But it didn't matter after he mastered the pacemaker Amastar and bolted to an easy win.

"He's still got a lot to learn," Pike said. "He sort of ranged up and got a bit lost for a little part of the straight but his last part of the race was very strong.

"He's going to develop into a nice horse."

McNab labelled him as a horse "going places".

"He won really well," McNab said. "But I thought you've only seen 60 per cent of him today.

"He wanted to do a lot wrong and he was quite uptight for him but it was a good effort."

Despite taking 1:31.91 for the trip, both trainer and jockey predict Dynamic Eagle will be at his best on a dead track but Pike will push on to another 3-year-old race in the meantime.

Dynamic Eagle was an $80,000 Karaka yearling purchase for Pike's stable client Colin Keane.

A three-length winner on debut at Matamata at the beginning of last month, Dynamic Eagle finished second to Irish Mist at Ellerslie during Queen's Birthday weekend.

Punters got it spot on when Art Deco won the Rating 85 over 1200m.

TAB odds-setter Stephen Hunt reported a flood of money for the Allan Sharrock-trained mare lured north from New Plymouth for the $30,000 race.

"She's been crunched in to $2.90," Hunt reported. "She took all the money."

Paul O'Sullivan trains Sha Tin quartet
20 Jun 2017

aul O’Sullivan celebrated his first four-timer in Hong Kong yesterday.

The New Zealander’s stable was in outstanding touch, with the Kiwi-bred Aeroluminance starting the winning roll at Sha Tin before Namjong Invincible, Starship and Willie Way followed suit.

“It makes such a difference when you have a good barrier,” O’Sullivan said. “All of my winners drew a gate, they had really good runs throughout and that showed at the finish.”

NZ Racing Desk

The Informant

Mark Walker racking up the winners in Singapore
19 Jun 2017

A barrage of 10 wins in the space of seven days has seen Kiwi trainer Mark Walker establish a 13-win lead in the Singapore trainers' premiership leading into this weekend's racing.

Walker, who won the Singapore premiership in 2015, now looks well placed to snare a second title there to go with the five he won in New Zealand.

"We're 13 ahead now and I'd rather be 13 ahead than that many behind, but there's still a little way to go yet," Walker said this week.

"Alwin Tan won the premiership last year. He's got a lot of local support and he won't lie down. 

"He's got a big advantage in knowing the local language too. I haven't learnt it because I haven't wanted to know what they are saying about me," Walker quipped.

While not knowing the language might be a handicap for Walker, he has quickly adapted to most other facets of training in Singapore and has developed a good knack of striking when a horse is best placed in the ratings.

"Once they have been here for a while, horses find their right grade and then it just depends on striking the right time of the season. If you get horses in the right grade at the right time, you can have a really good run and that's what happened with us," Walker said.

"Of course, it can work against you because horses can get up to higher grades and you can have a flat period. But at the moment the horses are flying, our riders are riding in great form and we've got great staff. Everything is gelling at the moment. 

"We've got a lot of horses that have won two or three races this season whereas other seasons, they might have won just one. We've just had a good, consistent run this year."

Walker has his allocated box allowance of 60 full, mainly with New Zealand-bred horses, which he prefers.

"They are the toughest and the soundest and their durability is far superior to anything that races here," Walker said.

"We have horses in Singapore sourced from all around the world, but the New Zealand-breds far perform beyond the norm. They are brought up naturally, not fed up to be too big as young horses and because of that there's not the same pressure on their joints and they are so sound.

"And they are the best value for money as well. Karaka is always the best buying. You don't have to spend the earth to get a top-class horse. You only have to look at a horse like War Affair who has been a top performer up here. Dave [Ellis, Te Akau boss] only paid $70,000 for him at Karaka."

New Zealand-bred horses have won 45 per cent of all races in Singapore this season, while War Affair, a son of O’Reilly and now in the care of fellow Kiwi trainer Bruce Marsh is on the verge of breaking the $3 million mark in prizemoney.  

One of the key aspects of Walker's success in Singapore has been getting the right systems in place and he revealed he splits the season into two halves, so as he prepares for the second half of the year, he is preparing to bring in a fresh wave of horses.

"We've got 22 horses hand-walking at the moment, fresh for the second part of the season. I've just found splitting sections of the team for certain parts of the season works really well," Walker said.

"We've been here for a while now and we know the system. Gus and Karen Clutterbuck have been with us virtually from day one up here and they know how our stable runs intimately. We've surrounded ourselves with really good staff and we've got a good bunch of owners. Everything is working really well."

Among the horses Walker is looking forward to stepping out in the coming weeks are unraced Sebring two-year-old gelding Ferocious, a Ready To Run purchase that will debut at Kranji next Friday, and Mastercraftsman five-year-old gelding Nazir, a winner of two of his last four starts.

"We always look forward to the new horses because they are the future of the barn and we've got a good opinion of Ferocious," Walker said.

"Nazir had reasonable Sydney form, but he's got up here and improved out of sight. Hopefully he's the type of horse who could end up in the Singapore Gold Cup for us later on."

Walker said there were positive signs for the future of racing in Singapore, especially with new initiatives brought by the appointment of new chief executive Chong Boo Ching.

"He's put a bit of spark back into the club," Walker said.

"Racing here had gone through a bit of a flat spot when the international races went but there are good ideas coming out of the head offices and new incentives with better prize money."

Walker was back in New Zealand last week supervising the Matamata stables, with Stephen Autridge on holiday and Jamie Richards campaigning the Te Akau team in Brisbane, and he relished the opportunity to catch up with old friends, but there was one thing he was pleased to escape.

"I'm certainly not missing those cold mornings. You don't get those in Singapore," he said. - NZ Racing Desk.

Guy testing the water with former Hong Kong galloper
14 Jun 2017

Danica Guy doesn’t yet know how much there is under the bonnet, but if looks are anything to go by she believes she might have something in the former Hong Kong galloper Kitaya.

The Irish-bred grey arrived at Guy’s Matamata stable two months ago after being retired in Hong Kong and then gifted to her. Initially Kitaya was all at sea in his new environment, but after settling into the New Zealand stable routine and trackwork, Guy is close to lining the seven-year-old up in a trial.

“He was a bit off the clock to begin with, he wouldn’t settle in his paddock and was very keen in his work, but he’s turned the corner, he’s now lovely to do anything with,” Guy said after Kitaya had got through strong work at the Matamata track this morning.

“I didn’t have much idea of what type he was, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the horse that came off the float. He’s a gorgeous individual, not just his colour, everything about him.

“He retired sound in Hong Kong and even though he didn’t perform up to expectations there, I think it was more to do with not having the right races and track conditions.”

Kitaya began his career under the name US Law in France, where he won a 1600-metre maiden two-year-old race at Longchamp before going on to win a  Group Three 1600 metres on the same track and then finish third in the Gr. 1 Criterium International de Saint-Cloud, also over 1600 metres.

High hopes were held for the son of French Derby winner Lawman as a three-year-old, but after a first-up third he failed in three Group One attempts and was sold to Hong Kong.

Kicking off in class two, he was unplaced in his first season, then finished third twice in 12 starts during the 2015-16 season and eventually found form with two class four wins over 1650 metres at Happy Valley.

“Looking at his European form he handled heavy ground, so I shouldn’t have any trouble finding conditions to suit him,” Guy said. “I’m not wanting to get ahead of myself and the first thing is to find a trial for him and take it from there.”

Powerful McKay contingent for annual assault on northern winter features
14 Jun 2017

eter McKay is once again set to take advantage of the opportunity with a strong team entered for the first weekend raceday of the Ruakaka winter season.

The Matamata trainer has made an annual tradition of heading north in quest of the feature raceday stakes on offer on the sand-based Northland track.  His contingent for Saturday’s Whangarei Racing Club meeting is headed by the classy sprinter-miler Amarula, who will making a fresh start after winning the Listed Livamol Autumn Stakes at Hastings in April.  

Other McKay stable members heading north include De Niro, Lucky’s Revenge, Barcelo and Stokers Rock.

“It’s worth making the trip up there on a Saturday at this time of year,” says McKay. “The stakes are a lot better than midweek and the traffic through Auckland isn’t the nightmare than it normally is during the week.”

Amarula, the winner of seven of his 21 starts,  brings impressive track statistics to Saturday’s open sprint, having scored a hat-trick at Ruakaka in his first preparation during the winter of 2015 and winning again there in the opening start of his campaign last spring. He looked in forward condition for his weekend assignment when hitting out boldly in training this morning.

“We’ll just stick to Ruakaka for now and see where he’s up to in the spring,” said McKay. “I’m not sure how well off he’ll be against the younger horses with Group race form when the Hawke’s Bay races come around, but that’s for later.”

Stokers Rock, the winner of five races in the South Island before being transferred north last summer, is making good progress after recovering from a suspensory ligament issue.

“He’ll run in either the open 1600 or the Rating 85 1400 with a claim,” McKay said. “It’ll depend on how the noms look as to which race he starts in.

“De Niro can start in the 85 1400 and Lucky’s Revenge and Barcelo will be against each other in the Rating 75 1400. I’ll be entering Valante at Ruakaka and Te Awamutu, so where he runs will depend on what each race looks like.

“He’s run two good races over 1600 and it’s 2000 metres at Ruakaka, which could be a good chance to step him up over ground. I’ve also got a 45-rated maiden called As Per that has gone okay in a couple of trials, but whether he makes the trip will depend on how strong the noms are.”

Melbourne in the mix for Volpe Veloce
14 Jun 2017

Graham Richardson and Gavin Parker are going to be spoiled for choice in the new season with their multiple stakes winner Volpe Veloce.

The high-class daughter of Foxwedge is in the early stages of a new preparation after spelling particularly well.  

“She had two months off and she’s really strengthened,” Richardson said. “She did two weeks of pre-training and she’s been back with us for a couple of weeks.

“She might go to the Foxbridge Plate and then we may look at Melbourne. There are any number of fillies and mares’ races there.

“Nothing has been confirmed yet though, and there’s Hawke’s Bay to think about as well.”

Volpe Veloce has won seven of her eight starts, including the Gr. 2 Eight Carat Classic, the Gr. 3 Eulogy Stakes and at Listed level the Karaka Mile and the Castletown Stakes.

Meanwhile, the stable will kick-start the career of another promising youngster at Te Teko tomorrow when La Mia Stella runs in the New World Whakatane 2YO.

“She’s a lovely filly, but I’m not sure about the ground,” Richardson said. “She’ll have this one and then we’ll put her out and come back and set her for the Gold Trail Stakes.” 

By Per Incanto, La Mia Stella has placed in both of her lead-up trials while newcomer Crimson Glory has also impressed in the lead-up to his stable debut in the NZI/Sweeney Townsend Insurance Brokers Ltd 1200.

“He’s back from Hong Kong and he trialled up well, again I’m not sure about the ground for him,” Richardson said.

He also has Recollect and Ready To Rock in the Team Wealleans 1600 and was loathe to split the fillies while Eprouvez has drawn the outside gate in the Kope Turf Bar Sprint. He may be reserved for Pukekohe Park next week. 

Connections of Savile Row eyeing Melbourne campaign
08 Jun 2017

The workload of the well-performed colt Savile Row has gone up a notch.

The gifted son of Makfi enjoyed a good spell and he is now slowly picking up the pace toward his four-year-old campaign.

"He's back in pre-training and he's just a different horse," said Jonathan Scully, racing manager for breeder-owner Kevin Hickman.

"Toward the end of his last preparation he was having immaturity problems and issues with his joints and he'd had enough.

"The time out has served him really well and he's lengthened and strengthened and he's much more well-balanced now."

Trained by Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard, Savile Row won his only start as a two-year-old and this season he ran third in the Listed Barneswood Farm Stakes before he finished runner-up to Ugo Foscolo in the Group I New Zealand 2000 Guineas.

He came back from a brief let-up to win at Ellerslie and was then narrowly beaten in the Group I Levin Classic. The colt later performed admirably against the older horses in the Group I Herbie Dyke Stakes at Te Rapa, where he beat all but Volkstok'n'barrell.  

Savile Row was subsequently spelled following a below par performance when unplaced in the Group I New Zealand Derby.

"It will be nice to get a Group win under his belt after going close a number of times," Scully said.

"I'm not sure if he will race in New Zealand before the Melbourne spring carnival, it will depend on his progress and the weather here.

"We all believe we've got a very smart horse and all the form around him is excellent."

- NZ Racing Desk.

Gingernuts heads Ellerslie Awards
08 Jun 2017

The Ellerslie deeds of the outstanding three-year-old Gingernuts were acknowledged at the Ellerslie Awards ceremony held during their Queen’s Birthday meeting.

“He won the Outstanding Performance of the Year for his win in the Avondale Guineas, and also won Ellerslie Horse of the Year, which is voted on by club officials and selected media,” Auckland Racing Club executive general manager Craig Baker said. 

“The Outstanding Performance award was a club members and public vote, via social media, and it’s fair to say that he won pretty easily.”

In the Gr. 2 Avondale Guineas, the Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards-trained Gingernuts came from last after missing the start by five lengths.

NZ Racing Desk

Grylls scores Singapore contract
02 Jun 2017

Matamata jockey Craig Grylls is set to leave winter racing behind after being granted a three-month contract by the Singapore Turf Club.

While Grylls has yet to be directly contacted by STC officials, a statement posted yesterday on the club website confirmed the licensing decision.

“I applied for a three-month contract earlier in the year but hadn’t heard anything,” Grylls told this morning. “I was out duck shooting yesterday afternoon with a couple of mates and the first I knew was when I got a text from Sam Weatherley saying ‘good on you’.”

Grylls and his wife Milou have booked a week’s holiday in Tahiti from June 20, by which time he expects the necessary work permit and other arrangements to be completed.

“I’ve ridden in Australia and Macau, but this will be my first time in Singapore,” Grylls said. “It’s exciting to think I’ll be riding at Kranji – it’ll be warmer than New Zealand at this time of year too!”

Grylls, a third-generation member of Te Awamutu’s most famous jockey family, has found his niche since relocating to Matamata several years ago. At 27 his New Zealand career tally stands at 710 wins and he is enjoying another rewarding season with 61 wins, 10 of them at black-type level headed by the Gr. 1 Livamol Classic on Willie Cazals. 

Coleman cracks 2,000 wins on home turf
31 May 2017

The racing gods smiled on Michael Coleman at Matamata today, when in the first of two rides on his home track programme, he joined the exclusive club of jockeys to ride 2,000 winners in New Zealand.

Coleman’s landmark victory came on the Shaun and Emma Clotworthy-trained August Edition in the NZB Pearl Series 1600-metre maiden event. There to join in the celebrations were his parents Peter and Pauline, son Liam, former boss Jim Gibbs, and three earlier inductees to the 2,000 wins club, retired jockeys Lance O’Sullivan and Noel Harris and the still very much active 53-year-old Chris Johnson.

At 47 years, Coleman can look back on a career that may not have snared a jockeys’ premiership but which has included an association with numerous class gallopers, headed by Horse of the Year title-holders Xcellent and Tidal Light.

“It’s great to get to 2,000 and to do it on my home track makes it even more special,” Coleman said as he accepted a trophy from the Matamata Racing Club to mark the occasion.

The honour of presenting the trophy fell to noted apprentice mentor Gibbs, who recalled the young teenager who began his career with him by riding his bicycle to work every morning before school and within 18 months of beginning his career was being entrusted with Group One rides in both New Zealand and Australia.

Coleman’s landmark win came in a career encompassing 16,595 raceday rides which as well as 2,000 wins included 178 black-type wins and 37 Group Ones.

Michael Coleman could join 2000 club at Matamata on Wednesday
29 May 2017

A winning double at Ellerslie on Saturday has taken Matamata rider Michael Coleman to within just one victory of a significant milestone, one that he hopes to accomplish on his home track this Wednesday.

Coleman sits on 1999 career wins and is just one victory away from becoming the seventh member of the elite group of Kiwi's who have ridden 2000 winners or more. While he is feeling relaxed about achieving the elusive mark, Coleman is keen to put the chase to bed on the track where it all began for him.

"If you asked me five years ago whether I would get to 2000 wins I probably would have said you were crazy," he laughed.

"It wasn't something I had really thought about as I've always said that the day I didn't have the hunger or passion for riding it would be the day I gave it away.

"It's really only in the last couple of years that I decided to try and give it a shot as I've found I'm still keen about my riding and to get to the milestone that only a handful have achieved would be something special.

"To be able to do it on my home course would make it even more special as I've had such good support from the trainers and owners here I couldn't think of a better place to crack it."

Although his final book of rides is yet to be confirmed, Coleman believes he has two live chances already to get the elusive victory under his belt.

"I'm booked for August Edition in race two and Miss Horotiu in race six at this stage and I think they are both nice chances," he said.

"I'm not sure how many other rides I will have but hopefully one of those two can do the job for me."

When pressed about some of his more memorable career achievements Coleman nominates his win aboard Xcellent in the 2004 New Zealand Derby as one that stands above the rest.

"There was just something special about the win and the horse himself," he replied.

"He was only having his third raceday start and was still very green but you could just feel the power about him that day.

"Funnily enough I didn't even ride him in his first start but we knew he was special so to get up and win the Derby like that was pretty memorable."

Coleman hasn't thought much beyond this season when it comes to his riding future, preferring to continue his philosophy of taking things a day at a time.

"While I'm still enjoying it I will keep riding," he said.

"The day I'm not I will walk away and have no regrets. I guess when things aren't going well you do start to have those retirement thoughts but I've had a pretty good year after a slow start so I think there's still a way to go for me in the riding ranks at this stage."

In achieving his 2000th career win Coleman will join David Walsh, Lance O'Sullivan, David Peake, Bill Skelton, Noel Harris and Chris Johnson as members of the notable club.

– NZ Racing Desk.

Eagle Farm challenge for Derby favourite
25 May 2017

The versatility of the current Gr. 1 Queensland Derby favourite Shocking Luck will be fully tested in his final lead-up this weekend to the June 10 classic.

The three-year-old soared to the top of the market following his hollow win in the Gr. 3 Rough Habit Plate in soft going at Doomben, but Saturday’s Gr. 3 Grand Prix Stakes at Eagle Farm represents a sterner challenge.

“He’s a much better horse on top of the ground and we didn’t think he would handle it last time out,” said Jamie Richards, who trains Shocking Luck with Stephen Autridge.

“It’s going to be worse at Eagle Farm and while we don’t think the two-week turnaround is a problem – he’s thriving and we’re happy - the track isn’t going to come back and it will certainly be cutting out.”

Opie Bosson will again be aboard Shocking Luck and he will also ride Melody Belle (Gr. 2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes) and Jimmy Rea (Green Options Handicap).

NZ Racing Desk

Sound Proposition to remain in Australia
24 May 2017

A change of stable is imminent for the Group One winner Sound Proposition.

The Savabeel five-year-old made his final appearance from the Matamata stable of Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott when he was unplaced in his Australian debut in the Gr. 1 Doomben Cup, in which he was tripped up by the heavy going.

The race was won by Sense Of Occasion, who is prepared at Newcastle by Kris Lees – the new trainer of Sound Proposition.

“We’ve been told that’s what is happening and we can’t blame the owners for that,” O’Sullivan said.

“It’s just one of those things, part of the job, and with a good horse there are more opportunities for them overseas. 

“He likes the good tracks and there isn’t much around at home for him. I don’t think he’s a Hawke’s Bay horse, he’s struggled going left-handed in the past.”

Sound Proposition has won four of his 17 starts, including the Easter Stakes in 2016 when it was a Group One contest.

Meanwhile, O’Sullivan has revealed that their Gr. 1 Sistema Stakes winner and Gr. 1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes runner-up Summer Passage is unlikely to race in New Zealand again this year.

“We’ve got a Group One with him here and we can only add value by winning one in Australia,” he said. “He may not even trial here, we’ll probably take off early with him and the main target is likely to be the Coolmore Stud Stakes.”

The Group One three-year-old sprint will be run at Flemington on November 4.

NZ Racing Desk, The Informant

Shocking Luck in top Queensland Derby rehearsal
16 May 2017

Shocking Luck is Hong Kong-bound but not before he attempts to win the Queensland Derby following his emphatic win in the Gr. 3 Rough Habit Plate at Doomben today.

The Kiwi raider drifted from $4.80 to $6 but was untroubled to win by two and three-quarter lengths from Order Again, who was heavily backed into $3.40 equal favouritism with Veladero, who was one and three-quarter lengths away third.

After a second placing over 1500 metres in midweek company at Ipswich earlier in the month, Shocking Luck handled the rise in grade and distance with ease, confirming the high opinion co-trainer Jamie Richards has held in the gelding.

"He's a big skinny New Zealand horse with a stayer's action and we always felt he would come into his own once he stepped up to 2000 metres," Richards said.

After his next run in the Gr. 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Eagle Farm on May 27, Shocking Luck will attempt to emulate Eagle Way, who won last year's Queensland Derby before going to Hong Kong where he has raced successfully.

"David Ellis sold this horse to Phillip Mak in Hong Kong and the intention is to run him in the Grand Prix and Derby before he heads overseas," Richards said of the son of Melbourne Cup winner Shocking.

Any concerns Richards held for Shocking Luck on the soft track proved unfounded.

"Hopefully the tracks continue to improve because believe me he's a much better horse on top of the ground," Richards said. "All going well he can hold his form at his next two starts and there's no reason why he can't."

Order Again produced an eye-catching Derby trial as trainer Brian Smith sweats on gaining a start in the blue-riband event.

The gelding earned A$25,000 for finishing second but Smith is concerned his overall prize money of A$62,000 won't be enough to guarantee a Derby start.

Stephen Rodgers

Gold Fever strikes the races in Matamata
08 Mar 2017

Ideal summer weather, a perfect track and quality fields combined to make Matamata's biggest raceday of the year one to remember.

A capacity crowd flocked to the Matamata racecourse on Saturday for the J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders' Stakes meeting and no-one was left disappointed by the action on the track nor the style on show in the Tuscany Road Fashion in the Field.

The day's headline race, the $100,000 Matamata Breeders' Stakes, was won by one of the strong local contingent, Gold Fever.

It was a first in Matamata's flagship race for co-trainer Jamie Richards, but it marked the fourth for his Te Akau Racing partner Stephen Autridge to go with the wins by Bayremah, Maxamore and Catamarca over a five-year period in the late 1990s.

Saturday's result was something of a replay of last year's Matamata Breeders' Stakes, which was won by Gold Fever's half-sister Gold Rush.

The significant difference was that the latter was trained by Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott and beat the Te Akau runner Sassy 'N' Smart by a nose.

The Wexford training partners claimed a share of Saturday's action when their highly rated colt Summer Passage downed Te Akau's Summer Monsoon in the other two-year-old feature, the Reid & Harrison Slipper.

Gold Fever and Summer Passage were two of six Matamata-trained winners on the nine-race programme but neither may have got the loudest cheer.

That belonged to Massofdash, or more specifically her 21-year-old jockey Tegan Newman, who was having her first ever raceday ride when she brought the Jim Collett-trained mare home for an easy win in the New World Matamata 1400.

The competition was just as keen for the Tuscany Road Fashion in the Field where it was Pokeno woman Belinda Green who was named Surpreme Winner.

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She will go forward to compete at Derby Day Fashion in the Field in Auckland on March 4.

Green said someone thought her outfit looked like "a liquorice lolly" but hoped it was the point of difference judges were looking for.

"Also my headwear was made to match and was a quirky piece. I used fabric from the dress on my headwear." 

It was the third time she had entered Matamata Breeders' Stakes Fashion in the Field.

She enjoyed returning each year because the event was well organised and the prizes "extremely generous from local businesses".

"I loved catching up with fellow fashionistas - a lovely bunch of ladies - all with a common passion for raceday attire.

"This was my first race day with my three-month-old daughter. I'm now learning to juggle going to the races and motherhood responsibilities."

Green has a keen interest in race day headwear which kept her up to date with racing fashion trends.

"I follow the Australian racing fashion scene on social media and am inspired by the creativity and bold looks.

"They are not afraid to push the fashion boundaries over there and it gives me the confidence to try something different in New Zealand."

She enjoyed customising headwear.

"One time, I made three different hats for my dress, I really wanted to make sure my outfit was spot on!"

She has some advice for others looking to impress judges at fashion in the field events.

"When preparing your raceday outfit, pop on the entire ensemble and take a photo of yourself.

"This is really helpful in editing and reviewing your look, adding or subtracting accessories to compliment."

She said competing in a fashion in the field event may appear daunting at first but organisers and other contestants were always helpful and friendly.

"A few minutes on the catwalk gives you such an adrenaline buzz, it's addictive and I highly recommend it."

Fashion in the Field results:

Janes Fashion and Accessories Avante Garde: 1st Belinda Green; 2nd Jane Bennett; 3rd Tammie Stuck. Envisage Raceday Elegance: 1st Sheree Sheehan; 2nd Janelle Burnside; 3rd Alisha Burnside. Moda Models: 1st Ainhoa Tejades; 2nd Alisha Maxwell; 3rd  Jacki  Reynolds. Tuscany Road Supreme Winner: Belinda Green.

Junior Fashion in the Field: 3-4 yrs: Lily Ferguson; Braxton Popplewell; Lennox Thompson. 5-7 yrs: Sofia Gorham; Ashton Knowlton; Mischa Thomson. 8-10 yrs: Liz Bennet; Delta Ritchie; Victoria Roskem. ‚Äč11-13 yrs: Sari Gold; Lily Pearl Hunter.

Dennis Ryan and Lawrence Gullery

Autridge gets his Derby among a sea of orange
08 Mar 2017

While a sea of orange caps went wild in the stand, Stephen Autridge cast his mind back more than 35 years as Gingernuts crossed the line first in the $1 million Vodafone New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie today.

On Boxing Day 1981 Autridge had experienced the low point of his time in racing when his mount, New Zealand Derby favourite Altitude, suffered a catastrophic haemorrhage midway through the classic and died minutes later.

Today he stood in the same birdcage that he had trod so sadly through all those years ago and fought back tears that told a quite different story.

“1981. In some ways it seems a long time ago but to be standing here now after finally winning the Derby, it sure takes you back,” said the wistful trainer, who prepares Gingernuts in partnership with Jamie Richards.

For others in the Gingernuts camp, any tears that flowed were pure joy. Blair Alexander, who had joined forces with Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis to syndicate the $42,500 Ready to Run Sale purchase, was the toast of the town.

Through his workplace at the Auckland advertising agency FCB, Alexander drew in a bunch of workmates and friends who today sported tangerine caps with bold blue print declaring “G-Nuts” as the crowd favourite for today’s classic.

“With a bit of luck I might get a pay rise,” declared Alexander, who is the partner of former Te Akau stable jockey Matt Cameron. “No this is great, I don’t think I’ll be taking my cap off tonight!”

Cameron was Gingernuts’ jockey when he hit form in a lowly Rating 65 race at Te Teko in late January, and Johnathan Parkes was on board for the Iffraaj gelding’s amazing first-to-last win in the Avondale Guineas two weeks ago.

But today the responsibility lay with recently reappointed Te Akau jockey Opie Bosson and he rode the type of race that he’s renowned for, settling the chestnut gelding sixth one out from the rail before lodging his bid at just the right time.

While others such as the favourite Savile Row were battling on the home turn, Gingernuts was just getting serious. He swept up wide with 250 metres to run, lay in for a few strides and then surged forward to collar the Australian raider Rising Red and draw away to score by a length.

“I knew I had a lot of horse underneath me and I never spent a penny throughout,” said Bosson, who had ridden Mongolian Khan to victory in the same race two years ago. “He did it easily in the end.

“It’s good to win the race for Te Akau and to get these big results is what we need. It’s awesome for Steve, who has been my number one supporter right from day one.

“Whenever I’ve been down he’s been the one to ring me and cheer me up. I’m stoked to do it for him.”

Bosson, who is Autridge’s godson and served his apprenticeship with him during his first stint with Te Akau, rode four winners on today’s Derby programme. In late January he also won the only other $1 million race on the New Zealand calendar, the Karaka Million on the Fortuna/Te Akau filly Melody Belle.

Hall Of Fame, who was the other 2015 Ready to Run Sale purchase made by Ellis, provided the same combination with a Group One win in mid-January when winning the Levin Classic at Trentham.

D Ryan
The Informant
Hennessy-bred filly becomes Ocean Park's first winner
20 Feb 2017

Cox Plate winner Ocean Park has sired his first winner and appropriately it was bred by the stallion’s trainer and former co-owner Gary Hennessy.

Beerzatbernz, a daughter of the Hennessy-owned Flying Spur mare Flying Rosa, lined up in a 1050-metre two-year-old race at yesterday’s Morphettville meeting in Adelaide as second favourite after second placings in her two preparatory trials.

The Tony McEvoy-trained bay trailed on the fence and for a brief period in the home straight it appeared that she was going to be denied racing room. But after working across heels into the clear, she balanced up and put in long strides over the final stages to score by a long neck from another first starter, Per Incanto filly Uninhibited.

Between himself and Hong Kong-based Steve Yan and Andrew Wong who raced Ocean Park, they have sent a dozen mares to Ocean Park in each of the four years he has stood at Waikato Stud. Beerzatbernz, Ocean Park’s third raceday starter, was sold by Hennessy for A$40,000 at last year’s Melbourne Premier Sale.

“It’s very satisfying to be the breeder of OP’s first winner,” Hennessy said. “My wife Jenny and I went looking for mares that we thought would suit him when he went to stud and this filly is from one of them.

“After Tony had bought her he commented that he thought he got her for unders, but good luck to him. She’s a lovely big scopey filly, a real Oaks type, and looking at how she won yesterday I’d say she’s got a real future.”

It was fitting that Ocean Park's first winner came in a weekend that also features racing at Gisborne, where the son of Thorn Park began his own racing career. He dead-heated for first in a maiden three-year-old event there in November 2011.

He went on to win another seven races including the Gr. 1 Cox Plate, Caulfield Stakes, Underwood Stakes, New Zealand Stakes and Makfi Challenge Stakes and at the end of his landmark season he was awarded the Horse of the Year title. 

Hennessy reports that Ocean Emperor, the Zabeel entire owned in the same three-way partnership that raced Ocean Park, has come through his impressive recent fresh-up win in good order and is likely to line up at next Saturday’s Matamata meeting.

“There’s a 1400-metre race that will suit him on the home track and if I think it’s the right thing to do, we might then look at a race like the Easter.”

Dennis Ryan
The Informant
Late Derby entry confirmed for Gingernuts
20 Feb 2017

Yesterday’s last-to-first Avondale Guineas winner Gingernuts is set to run in the $1 million Vodafone New Zealand Derby.

Te Akau principal and syndicate manager David Ellis has confirmed a $30,000 late nomination fee will be paid by Tuesday’s noon deadline for the son of Iffraaj. Gingernuts will be one of possibly three horses trained by Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards in line for the March 4 Ellerslie classic.

“We’re going to run Gingernuts in the Derby, where he’ll be ridden by Opie Bosson,” Ellis said. “Our other confirmed runner, Beaumarchais, will be ridden by Michael McNab.”

Ellis said a decision around Waikato Guineas runner-up Shocking Luck, who bypassed the Avondale Guineas due to the slow ground, would be made before the late entry deadline.

“Shocking Luck has been sold to a client of Te Akau Racing in Hong Kong, and a decision on whether he goes to the New Zealand Derby, the Queensland Derby, or straight to Hong Kong will be made within the next 24 hours,” Ellis said today.

Ellis signed for Gingernuts for $42,500 at the 2015 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale, one of just two selections made with Richards.

“Hall of Fame has already won a Group One (Levin Classic) and now Gingernuts has won a Group Two, and it’s great to have gone to the sale and ended up with two horses of that quality.”

On the strength of his Avondale Guineas win Gingernuts is the big mover on the TAB’s fixed odds Derby market to now share the third line on $8 with Camino Rocoso. Last week’s Herbie Dyke Stakes runner-up Savile Row has assumed $4.50 favouritism from Sacred Elixir ($5) following the latter’s unplaced performance in the Avondale Guineas.

Dennis Ryan
The Informant
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