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Matamata Racing Club Award Winners
22 Aug 2016
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 www.theinformant.co.nz 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

Perfect Start makes timely return to form
27 Jul 2016

The clock is ticking on stakes winner Perfect Start, who will have another opportunity to add to her black-type record this weekend.

The rising seven-year-old, who will go to stud in the spring, will back up in Saturday’s Listed Woods Contracting Taumarunui Gold Cup at Arawa Park after a much-improved performance at her last start.

Perfect Start’s connections were beginning to wonder if they would have to make an earlier than intended retirement call before she finished runner-up at New Plymouth.

“It was 50-50 how much longer she went on until then,” said Wayne Hillis, who trains the daughter of Perfectly Ready with Shaun Kessner.

“She’s taken a while to come up this time and put in a few not so good runs and we didn’t know whether her heart was still in it, but she tried really hard last time and she’s come through the race well.

“She will be getting in foal this year and we’ll probably race her through to January depending on her form.” 

Perfect Start is out of Artemesia, who is also the dam of the Hillis-trained Gr. 3 Winter Cup winner Art Beat, the multiple stakes placegetter Smartly and handy gallopers Darting and Martini Lass.

“She’s been a very good mare to us, as has the whole family,” Hillis said.

Perfect Start is the dual Group Three winner of the Manawatu Cup and the Trentham Stakes and she has also placed in the Gr. 2 Wellington Cup, the Listed Soliloquy Stakes and the Listed Anzac Handicap.

NZ Racing Desk

The Informant

McDonald the headline act on Goodwood opening day
27 Jul 2016

James McDonald has made a perfect start to his first Goodwood festival by winning the feature race on the opening day, the Gr. 2 Qatar Lennox Stakes for his retainers Godolphin.

McDonald has been in sensational form since hitting his straps on his third mid-year sojourn to the United Kingdom. His overnight win on the Charlie Hills-trained Dutch Connection took his tally to 17 wins from 77 race rides. Earlier major wins include the Gr. 2 Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket on Big Orange, while he has failed to ride a winner on only one of the past 10 racedays he has competed.

Dutch Connection was one of six rides on the first day of Glorious Goodwood and as well as the win McDonald also rode three second placegetters.

“He’s an awesome horse, I can’t believe I’ve won a big race for Charlie Hills,” McDonald told the Racing Post after Dutch Connection had beaten fellow Godolphin runner Home Of The Brave. “He brought me over three years ago and had so much faith in me, I can’t thank him enough.”

Lambourn-based Hills was equally effusive about the 24-year-old Kiwi. “He’s a world-class jockey. We’re going to see a lot of him,” Hills said. “He’s very laid-back, has a good relationship with horses and is very positive.”

McDonald is booked for five rides on Goodwood’s second day, headed by Toormore, a 25-to-one prospect for the Gr. 1 Sussex Stakes, and Nayyar, who is listed at 8-1 for the Gr. 3 Molecomb Stakes.

The recent one-month suspension handed to Godolphin jockey William Buick meant an extension of McDonald’s northern stint. When speaking recently with www.theinformant.co.nz he said that he planned to pack his bags for Australia in the first week of August and hopefully take time for a beach holiday in the south of France before linking up again with Godolphin’s Sydney trainer John O’Shea.

Dennis Ryan

The Informant

Early departure to Australia for Xtravagant
25 Jul 2016

Cox Plate contender Xtravagant is booked on a flight to Melbourne on Wednesday week.

“He’ll be staying at Flemington and he will be trial at Caulfield on August 9 and after that we will decide where he will kick off,” said Stephen Autridge, who trains the rising four-year-old with Jamie Richards.

A return to Caulfield on August 27 for the Gr. 3 Heath Stakes over 1100 metres, a race won last year by the former New Zealand-trained mare Bounding, is one option to start Xtravagant’s spring preparation.

“He’s come back really well after a break and all our riders who have been on him are saying he’s much stronger now,” Autridge said.

“The main objectives after a run or two will be the Group Ones at the carnival and a crack at the Cox Plate.”

Xtravagant has enjoyed a memorable season highlighted by his runaway victory in the Gr. 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas and his eight-length drubbing of his older rivals in the Gr. 1 NRM Sprint.

The son of Pentire, who also won the Gr. 3 Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes, features strongly in the New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards as a finalist in the champion three-year-old and champion sprint divisions.

Xtravagant’s stablemate Shillelagh has also been pencilled in for a Melbourne campaign.

“We’re going to send her over a week later to give the colt time to settle in before she turns up,” Autridge said.

Shillelagh has won four of her six starts for prominent Hunterville breeder-owners Christopher and Susanna Grace, the last of them at Ruakaka last month.

“She’ll have a couple of Saturday races to start with and hopefully she will be going well enough come carnival time for the fillies and mares’ races,” Autridge said.

The Savabeel four-year-old’s family is well known in Australia as she is a sister to the Gr. 2 Brisbane Cup winner and the Gr. 1 Caulfield Cup placegetter Tullamore.

NZ Racing Desk

The Informant

Refreshed Grylls keen for action
20 Jul 2016

Craig Grylls has returned from the longest holiday of his decade-long career refreshed and keen to resume race riding at New Plymouth on Saturday.

Grylls and his Swedish-born wife Milou, who he married in February, spent five weeks abroad, with most of that time in Sweden as well as a week in Ireland.

“It was a good chance to meet members of Milou’s family who couldn’t make it out for the wedding,” Grylls told www.theinformant.co.nz between trackwork riding duties at Matamata this morning. “Most of Milou’s family live in the Stockholm area but her grandmother lives up in the north of the country, so it was good to travel up there and meet her.

“I didn’t see the northern lights but I did get to see the midnight sun. It was quite amazing with 24-hour daylight way up north there.”

Grylls has ridden 57 winners in the season to date, not a match for his best tally of 78 in 2012-13 but still pleasing and the sixth time his mounts’ stake-earnings have topped $1 million.

“Things went a bit quiet just after Christmas for a while but I got going again,” the 26-year-old said. “It was good to win the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes on Gold Rush on my home track.

“That was a Group Two, my best win for the season, and I’m hoping to get back on her for the good fillies’ races in the spring.”

For the meantime, Grylls will return to raceday action at New Plymouth on Saturday, with Opunake Cup candidate Kindaleica amongst engagements already confirmed.

“I’m fresh and keen to get back into it,” added Grylls, who manages his own bookings. “Kindaleica should be a good ride. I won on him at New Plymouth earlier in his career and he felt good when I galloped him this morning.”

Dennis Ryan

The Informant

McQuade optimistic with double Opunake Cup hand
19 Jul 2016

Karyn McQuade will saddle a double hand for Saturday’s Listed Powerworx Opunake Cup feeling optimistic on all counts.

The Matamata trainer has the two best horses in her small team, Kindaleica and Underthemoonlight, entered for the $65,000 feature safe in the knowledge of their proven records on the New Plymouth track and confident they will be at concert pitch for their weekend assignments.

McQuade signed off on the pair’s fitness after they had galloped stylishly this morning. With their respective raceday jockeys Craig Grylls and Cameron Lammas on board, Kindaleica and Underthemoonlight cut out 1200 metres in a slick 1:15.8 and broke 36 seconds for their final 600 metres.

“That was lovely work, just right for where they’re both at,” she said. “Underthemoonlight is thriving and the freshen-up we gave Kindaleica has done him the world of good.”

Lightly raced Underthemoonlight has been in sparkling form this campaign, with a narrow second placing in an open sprint at Ellerslie followed by a win over 1400 metres at Te Rapa and a last-start fourth in the Listed Tauranga Classic.

Kindaleica hasn’t been to the races for two months but has proven class as the winner of the Listed Karaka Classic at Avondale in September.

What the stablemates have in common with special significance for Saturday’s big race is proven form at New Plymouth. Kindaleica won a special conditions 1400-metre race there in August 2014 and finished second in the ITM New Plymouth Interprovincial last September.

Underthemoonlight’s two starts on the track are a near replication of her stablemate’s record, having finished second in a special conditions race there last August and winning a Rating 65 1400 metres on Interprovincial day in September.

The one difference is that the pair’s regular rider, Anna Jones, will be on neither this weekend due to being absent on holiday in England. That leaves the way open for Craig Grylls, Kindaleica’s jockey in his career-first New Plymouth win, to resume duties, while Cameron Lammas will become just the second jockey to ride Underthemoonlight on raceday, Jones having handled her in all nine of her starts.

“We’ve always known Anna was going to be away but it’s worked out well to get Cameron and Craig for Saturday,” McQuade said. “I promised Cameron a long time ago that if ever Anna was unable to ride Underthemoonlight he would have the mount.

“He was the regular jockey of this mare’s close relation Midnight Kiss and has always ridden well for us.”

Midnight Kiss had a brief career with McQuade, winning two of her four starts and finishing third in the last of them, the 2014 New Zealand Oaks, after which she was sold to the United States.

Dennis Ryan 

The Informant

Capella pleasing Guy ahead of spring carnival
19 Jul 2016

The Hawke’s Bay spring carnival tops Danica Guy’s wish list for her quality performer Capella.

The Matamata trainer intends tackling all three legs – the Makfi Challenge Stakes on August 27, the Windsor Park Plate on September 17 and the Livamol Classic on October 1 – with the rising four-year-old.

“She’s coming along nicely and she will have her first proper run along on Tuesday morning,” Guy said. “We’ll look at the trials at Te Teko on August 2 and then carry on to Hastings.

“Hopefully she will have enough points to run in all three and her best opportunity will be on the last day over 2000 metres.”

Capella met and matched the best of her age group during her three-year-old campaign and won the Eight Carat Classic at her fifth appearance.

The Gary Harding-bred and owned daughter of Rip Van Winkle then ran third in the Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic and was a fast-finishing fourth in the New Zealand Derby.

That Ellerslie performance sealed a trip to Sydney where she was close up when fifth and seventh respectively in the Vinery Stud Stakes and the Australian Oaks.

Guy said Capella had made a good recovery after she took ill following a pre-flight spray procedure, along with fellow New Zealand fillies Sofia Rosa and Valley Girl, before her return flight home.

They suffered burns and showed signs of colic following an incorrect dosage of an insect spray treatment.

“She’s fine now and she’s really furnished. She’s a differently type of filly – she’s filled out and looks really well.”

Meanwhile, the well-performed sprinter Tomorrowland is back in Guy’s care after a period with Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young.

“He won’t be racing for a while. He’s got foot issues and he’s not the easiest horse to manage,” she said.

NZ Racing Desk

The Informamnt

Jones to make homeland debut at Newbury
16 Jul 2016

English-Kiwi jockey Anna Jones is set to realise a dream in the early hours of tomorrow morning when she dons silks for her first raceday ride in her homeland.

Jones, the winner of 90 races over the past three years as an apprentice with Matamata trainer Karen Fursdon, takes the mount on two-year-old first starter Spinnaker Bay, scheduled to run in the second race at Newbury at 1.30 New Zealand time on Saturday morning.

After growing up near England’s historic Newmarket racing centre, Jones found her way to New Zealand, initially to work in the yearling yard at Kevin Hickman’s Valachi Downs. She grabbed the chance to sign on with Fursdon and within months had opened her account, appropriately on the Hickman-owned Sir Elmo at Te Teko in June, 2013.

As the owner of Spinnaker Bay, Hickman is again the common denominator. Mixing a month’s holiday with family and friends, Jones had hopes to take a raceday ride or two during her sojourn and is now set to line up against the likes of champion jockeys Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori.

Spinnaker Bay is rated a 14-to-one chance by bookmakers, but no matter where Jones finishes on the William Jarvis-trained filly, she will cherish the landmark moment forever.   

Dennis Ryan

The Informant

Underthemoonlight to try her luck in Opunake Cup
12 Jul 2016

Karyn McQuade has her fingers crossed that a rating of 78 is sufficient for her stable star Underthmoonlight to gain a start in next week’s Opunake Cup.

The $65,000 Listed New Plymouth feature invariably attracts a strong field, which will be sponsored this year by Powerworx, but McQuade is confident that Underthemoonlight is up to the challenge.

That same confidence has seen the El Hermano mare, the winner until recently of just one race, take on open company in her last three starts. She was a close and unlucky second at Ellerslie in early June, then her fortunes turned with a win at Te Rapa a week later.

At her only start since she finished a game fourth in the weight-for-age Tauranga Classic, once again proving that she is by no means over-rated by her connections.

McQuade was hoping that Underthemoonlight’s black-type fourth might have earned a rating point or two, but that didn’t happen and now she is adopting a wait-and-see approach to next week’s race.

“Another couple of points and I would have had less of a worry about getting a start, but we’re not giving up hope,” McQuade said after riding the bay in a light workout at Matamata this morning.

“We’ll see what turns up and hopefully she’ll be one of them. She’s thriving and if she gets the chance I’m sure she can give it a shake.”

Dennis Ryan

The Informant

O'Sullivan signs off on landmark Hong Kong season
11 Jul 2016

Paul O’Sullivan made an early start to his mid-year New Zealand sojourn and can now reflect on a rewarding Hong Kong season, which ended yesterday with a personal best of 50 wins.

The 11-time champion New Zealand trainer arrived home last week for some time out with family, even though two meetings remained on the 2015-16 schedule. Last Wednesday at Happy Valley O’Sullivan reached his goal of a half-century of wins when Moment Of Power won a class three sprint on the inner-city track.

“I plan to be back there by the start of August to give me a full month to get to work and be ready for the start of the new season, so I figured it wouldn’t do any harm to get home early,” O’Sullivan told www.theinformant.co.nz as he reflected on his big season.

“All the work had been done on the handful of runners I had left, so for the past week there was nothing else I could have done.

“As it turned out I got the win I wanted to reach my target of 50 wins. It’s only a number I know, but it still sounds better than 49. It means a lot in Hong Kong to reach that mark.”

O’Sullivan’s tally headed by another Group One win by stable star Aerovelocity earned a total of HK$48.5 million, which converts to around NZ$8.8 million. His 50 wins placed him equal fourth on the premiership, 18 behind Australian expat John Size who took his championship tally to eight.

“After the season got off to a good start I did the numbers and thought that’s what I should be winning,” O’Sullivan added. “So yes, it was very satisfying for everyone involved in my operation to get there.”

O’Sullivan’s final winner, Moments Of Power, had another local connection through being ridden at Happy Valley by former New Plymouth apprentice Kei Chiong, who completed her stupendous season with a double at Sha Tin yesterday.

Chiong’s 37 wins established a raft of benchmarks as the first female jockey to be licensed in Hong Kong for 15 years. She not only secured the apprentice and leading local rider titles, but the ultimate accolade was yesterday's announcement that she also claimed the most popular jockey award as the result of a public vote.

Chiong, who surpassed dominant champion Joao Moreira in the eyes of avid Hong Kong racegoers, is set to make the most of the local off-season by spending the next month with leading South Australian trainer Philip Stokes.

The Informant

Richardson eyes further black type with Group One performer
11 Jul 2016

Matamata trainer Graham Richardson won’t lack spring options for his Group One performer Strada Cavallo.

He has welcomed the well-performed rising four-year-old back to the stable after a good break and a month of pre-training.

“She really has grown and strengthened - I’m very, very happy with her condition,” Richardson said.

“We’d like to get her going through the grades and then be looking at the spring and summer cups and a race like the Te Aroha Breeders’ Stakes would suit her as well – it’s all about getting more black type.”

Strada Cavallo has proved her versatility with a stakes success at 1400 metres and a top-class showing over 2400 metres.

The daughter of Alamosa has only won one race - the Listed John Grigg Stakes – but her quality is reflected by her runner-up finish in the Gr. 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas, a third in the Gr. 1 New Zealand Oaks and Group Three placings in the Lowland Stakes and the Desert Gold Stakes.

Meanwhile, another rising star in the Richardson camp has also begun her spring build-up after a dream two-year-old season.

Volpe Veloce was untroubled to win her autumn debut and her only other start before a break produced a clear-cut victory in the Listed Castletown Stakes at Wanganui.

“She’s in pre-training and the plan is for her to have a trial at Te Teko and then run first-up in the Gold Trail Stakes,” Richardson said.

“She will then go down to the South Island for the three-year-old circuit, the same as Strada Cavallo did earlier this season.”

The Informant

Newmarket tops Jones's bucket list
23 Jun 2016

Anna Jones is hoping her racing dream will come true next month.  

The 24-year-old will spend July at home in England with family and friends, but she also has a professional goal she would love to tick off as well.

“It’s been four and a half years since I was last back so it’s about time I went,” Jones said.

“I come from Newmarket and I’m going to be riding work for William Jarvis, who trains for Kevin Hickman, and for my old boss William Haggas.

“I’ve applied for my licence – I want to fulfil my dream and ride on my home track. I know the likelihood is quite small, but you never know.”

Apprenticed to Matamata trainer Karen Fursdon, Jones is enjoying another good season and she is only two shy of her career-best tally of 37 wins in 2014-15.

“I’ve been pleased and things have been going well,” Jones said. “I’ll be leaving on the 30th of June and I’ll be back riding trackwork here on the 2nd of August.”

In the meantime though, Jones will have an opportunity on Saturday to double her black-type tally for the season.

She posted her first stakes success in the spring when she won the Listed Westbury Classic aboard the Karyn McQuade-trained Kindaleica, and she will partner an in-form stablemate in the Listed Team Wealleans Classic at Tauranga.

“Hopefully I can go out with a bang with Underthemoonlight,” she said. “She’s a very good mare.”

Underthemoonlight was a one-race winner before she handled a sharp rise in class at Te Rapa last time out to beat the open handicappers.

The Informant

Winners Photos 30 March 2016
31 Mar 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pam Gerard appointed to Ballymore Matamata
30 Mar 2016

Experienced horsewoman Pam Gerard is set to take the place of Ballymore Stables’ Matamata resident trainer Chad Ormsby.

Ballymore proprietor and senior trainer Mike Moroney today announced that Gerard has been appointed following Ormsby’s decision to step back from his role as the operation’s New Zealand-based trainer.

“Chad is one of the finest young horsemen in the country and has established himself as an accomplished and promising trainer,” Moroney said.

“I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank him for his efforts and input into Ballymore Stables since he came into the partnership in the 2011-12 season.” 

In less than a decade as a jockey, Ormsby rode just short of 300 winners until increasing weight forced him to look at other avenues in racing. That led to his Ballymore role during which his standing in the industry has gone to yet another level.

At age 27, however, he has decided that at some stage in the near future he would like to travel and take in other aspects of life which due to his busy racing activities have not been possible.

“I’m not going anywhere just yet though,” Ormsby said. “Mike has asked me to remain part of Ballymore during the transition, so I’ll continue to ride trackwork as well as breaking in the new crop of yearlings.”       

Pam Gerard trained a total of 91 winners in her own right prior to moving north and commencing as assistant trainer with the successful Te Akau operation in 2011 and she has played a pivotal role since as senior assistant trainer.

This season she was repositioned to manage Te Akau’s South Island branch, from where she played a crucial role last November in the New Zealand 1000 and 2000 Guineas double by Risque and Xtravagant. Her overall input during that period produced 17 wins and 10 placings from 36 starters, including the two Group Ones referred to and another five stakes events.

Gerard has always harboured a desire to train in her own name again and Ormsby, who completed his jockey apprenticeship with her and her partner, former leading jumps jockey Tom Hazlett, was instrumental in facilitating the new training partnership.

While he is looking forward to the next stage in Ballymore’s development, Moroney will also reflect on the successes of the past few seasons.

“Chad has played a key role in our operation, which during his time with Ballymore has produced 115 wins, including six at Group or Listed level for prize-money just short of $2 million.

“Our most notable achievement in partnership was training two additional winners of the Wellington Cup (Graphic and Mister Impatience), taking Ballymore’s tally in the time-honoured race to four.

“It’s very important that we have young talented horsemen such as Chad in our industry and we know he will continue to succeed. We wish him all the very best in his future endeavours.

“Pam brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and horsemanship to the table and we are very excited to have secured her,” Moroney said. “She will be assisted by my established senior New Zealand-based staff - foreman Scott Magee, racing manager Nick Fairweather and our long-time office manager Dorothy Lennard.

“I am confident that the experience and knowledge within our Matamata operation will ensure that this combination will be a formidable and successful one for our owners.”

Sires' Produce Stakes confirmed for Heroic Valour
23 Mar 2016

Heroic Valour will be given the opportunity to add champion honours to his already unique standing.

The unbeaten colt is one of an international kind as the first Group One juvenile winner sired by the influential stallion Fastnet Rock.

Now Heroic Valour can double his top-level tally with confirmation from Te Akau Racing today that he will contest the Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes on Saturday week, with victory to guarantee him the two-year-old of the season award.

“He’s definitely heading toward Awapuni,” said Stephen Autridge, who prepares Heroic Valour with Jamie Richards.

“We wanted to make sure he came through his last run 110 per cent, which he has, and we’ve kept him ticking over.”

Successful on debut at Trentham in January, Heroic Valour then won the Listed Reid & Harrison Slipper at Matamata before he was too good for a hot line-up in the Gr. 1 Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie.

“Obviously he’s still doing plenty wrong and he’s still learning, but he’s still winning. He’s a very, very smart colt,” Autridge said.

“Even though he’s won right-handed, I’m happier with him going left-handed so it’s all looking good for Manawatu.” 

The stable will also be represented in the Awapuni feature by the filly Sassy ‘N’ Smart.

The winner of her first two starts including the Listed Welcome Stakes, she was narrowly beaten from a wide gate when second in the Gr. 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes and again drew a poor barrier when sixth in the Diamond Stakes.

Stable jockey Matt Cameron opted for Sassy ‘N’ Smart ahead of Heroic Valour, who was partnered by Jonathan Riddell, at Ellerslie. No decision has been made on riding engagements for Awapuni.

NZ Racing Desk

 

Xtravagant back for autumn and possible Queensland campaign
21 Mar 2016

In a surprise move, dual Group One-winning colt Xtravagant will return to work next week with one definite local autumn target and a possible Queensland winter campaign on his agenda.

Xtravagant has been spelling at Te Akau Stud since his return from Melbourne, where he was a disappointing eighth in the Australian Guineas. He was inspected yesterday by trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards along with Te Akau principal David Ellis and after discussions it was decided to bring him back into work.

“He’s thrived in the time he’s had out,” Autridge told www.theinformant.co.nz. “He’s put on around 30 kilos and looks fantastic.

“We had two options, to leave him out until the early winter and prepare him for the spring or bring him back now for a late season campaign.

“We decided on the latter, so he’ll be back in the stable next week to be prepared for the Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes in late April.  

“All going well and provided we’re happy with him, we’ll then look at Brisbane. The two races he could run in over there are the Doomben 10,000 and the Stradbroke.”

The Gr. 3 Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes is run over 1200 metres at Te Rapa on April 28, while the Doomben 10,000 is scheduled for May 28 and the Stradbroke Handicap for June 11. The headline race of the Queensland winter carnival will return to Eagle Farm this year following major track renovations.

The Doomben 10,000 is contested over 1350 metres for a stake of A$750,000, while the Stradbroke is over 1400 metres and is worth A$1.5 million.

Other discussions that took place yesterday centred on Te Akau’s star two-year-old pair Heroic Valour and Sassy ’N’ Smart. A start has been confirmed for Sassy ’N’ Smart in the Gr. 1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes on April 2, whereas a decision has been delayed for her unbeaten stablemate.

“We’ve put that off until next week,” said Autridge. “He’s come through his Ellerslie win good as gold, but we just want to look at it from a long-term point of view and decide whether he needs another run at two.”

Matamata Racing Club Trials Tuesday 22 March 2016
15 Mar 2016
Te Akau tops tables in two nations
15 Mar 2016The tangerine colours of Te Akau Racing were to the fore in both New Zealand and Singapore over the weekend with seven wins in the space of 48 hours, including the Group One victory of Heroic Valour in the Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie. 
 
“The weekend was massive,” Karyn Fenton-Ellis said. 
 
“Mark Walker won three races on Friday night and three on Sunday and he’s back leading the premiership in Singapore again after being Champion trainer last year. And then we’ve got Stephen (Autridge) and Jamie (Richards) leading the premiership here in New Zealand. 
 
“It’s a big team effort and we couldn’t be more proud of everyone.”
Autridge relaxes as Xtravagant lands in good shape
04 Mar 2016

Happy horse, happy trainer.

That neatly sums up Stephen Autridge in Melbourne tonight as he went into something more like relax mode with the safe arrival of Saturday’s Australian Guineas favourite Xtravagant at his temporary Flemington stable early this afternoon.

“He’s happy so I’m happy,” said the Matamata trainer after he had been left to kick stones when Xtravagant’s flight across the Tasman was delayed by a day due to concerns with the brakes on the charter jet.

“All‘s well though, he came off the float as if he owned the place – left quite an impression on all the media waiting for him too I’d say, they know he’s here to rumble.

“Once the cameras had all gone he got the chance to relax. He’s had plenty to drink and he had his head in the bin when we left him.”

Looking at the colt in his box at Leon and Troy Corstens’ Flemington yard, Autridge felt that the delay had been nothing but an anxious interlude for those closest to the horse.

“When we weighed him yesterday he was 508 kilos, he was 510 before he won his last start and 497 back when he won the 2000 Guineas in November. We’ll arrange to weigh him tomorrow, but the good thing is he had a little bit to come and go on.

“First thing in the morning he’ll have a swim, which is his normal routine, and then provided he’s eaten alright tonight, he’ll go for a trot and a bit of a swinging canter.”

Autridge reports that expectations are for a good track after predicted rain failed to eventuate today and no more is forecast before Saturday afternoon.

“That’s what we want,” he added. “We’ve got the draw, the horse has landed, now all we want to do is race.”  

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