Group 1 winning Kiwi entire Age Of Fire has joined the stable of champion Victorian trainer Darren Weir, reports NZ Racing Desk. The beautifully related 4YO won the Gr1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham in January, but has failed to flatter in races and trials since. "We sent him to Darren Weir to try and put a bit of enthusiasm back into him," Te Akau principal David Ellis said. "He was just going through the motions and we thought training him on the beach and with his expertise we could turn his form around." Ellis added: "He is a very good horse on his day and he has been bought to stand at Cambridge Stud, so we thought we would give him every opportunity to perform at the elite level in Melbourne in spring." By Fastnet Rock, Age Of Fire is out of Dragon's Tail (Galileo) and hails from the family of Gr1 English 1000 Guineas & Gr1 French Guineas winner Highclere, dam of Gr1 winner and UK blue hen Height Of Fashion (Bustino). Height Of Fashion made her name in the breeding barn producing legendary racehorse Nashwan, his three-time Gr1 winning brother Nayef, and successful sire Unfuwain.
An early morning trip to Taupo for a 1000m tune-up has top class mare Melody Belle ready to resume in Saturday week's Gr2 Lisa Chittick Foxbridge Plate, reports NZ Racing Desk. Due to the recent postponement of the Te Teko trials (now rescheduled for next Monday), trainer Jamie Richards opted to float the mare for an unplanned gallop. Richards noted, "It's not ideal, but we've got to play the cards we're dealt. The track was nice, probably a good slow rating, and they all had a good hit-out." Richards galloped Melody Belle with stablemate Age of Fire and was pleased with the work of both horses, saying, "Melody Belle worked with Age Of Fire over 1000m and quickened a bit to run the last 600 in 36 and a tick (seconds) and they were out against the outside fence. Melody Belle always works well and she finished a bit in front of Age Of Fire, but he's a bit big, and the trip and gallop will do him well. I'm happy with both of them and I'm looking forward to the Foxbridge Plate with Melody Belle." Last season's Champion 2YO, Melody Belle is pencilled in for the Gr1 Tarzino Trophy second-up.
All finalists have been confirmed for the New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards, reports NZ Racing Desk. The category winners, together with Horse of the Year and the NZTR award for Outstanding Contribution to Racing, will be announced at a black-tie dinner in Auckland, at Ellerslie Racecourse, on Sunday 26 August. The major categories are:
Click here to view full list of categories and confirmed winners.
Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis says he is looking forward to the 2018-19 racing season, a season that will see young horseman Jamie Richards take over as head trainer at the Matamata based operation, reports NZ Racing Desk. "There will be a change at the Te Akau helm, however it's not actually a time of real change. Jamie Richards will be the sole Te Akau trainer but together with an outstanding team, it will be 'business as usual' with plenty of exciting goals for the new season," said Ellis. "We have a team of world class horse people - skilled and experienced professionals who contribute so much to Te Akau's success. It's now over 30 years since I established Te Akau Racing and we have a very strong framework of fundamentals in place." Ellis added: "We will have about 50 horses to trial at Te Teko in early August. The horses I am picking to lead the early charge are Mongolianconqueror, Melody Belle, Age of Fire, Avantage and Sword of Osman, but there are plenty of others that we are confident will step up to Group level. The quality of bloodstock that we have in the stable to race in the new season has everyone very excited."
Connections are expecting an improved performance from Age Of Fire when the talented Kiwi colt steps up in distance in Saturday's Gr1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) in Sydney, reports NZ Racing Desk. A winner of the Gr1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham in January, Age Of Fire (Fastnet Rock-Dragon's Tail, by Galileo) made his Australian debut when 11th (beaten 5.9 lengths) behind star colt Kementari in the Randwick Guineas (1600m) on 10 March. "I thought he was okay. He drew awkwardly, and he's got another one [barrier 15] on Saturday, and had to go back in a quick race," said Jamie Richards, who trains in partnership with Stephen Autridge. "His work since has been very good and the 2000 metres is what he's looking for now. He's been out to the beach a couple of times and he's enjoyed that." Age Of Fire's primary target is the $2 million Gr1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on 7 April.
Group 1-winning Kiwi colt Age Of Fire (Fastnet Rock-Dragon's Tail, by Galileo) will head across the Tasman to Sydney next week, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Te Akau Racing-owned colt confirmed a trip to Australia after his excellent performance at Matamata last Saturday when storming home from last to finish third over 1400 metres. It was his first run since landing the Gr1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham in January. "Under the circumstances it was a very good run. It was hard to make up ground," said Jamie Richards, who trains the 3YO in partnership with Stephen Autridge. "He'll go over on Monday with the Randwick Guineas his first target and then hopefully on to the Rosehill Guineas and the Derby." The beautifully related Age Of Fire hails from the family of Gr1 English 1000 Guineas & Gr1 French Guineas winner Highclere, dam of Gr1 winner and UK blue hen Height Of Fashion (Bustino). Height Of Fashion made her name in the breeding barn producing legendary racehorse Nashwan, his three-time Gr1 winning brother Nayef, and successful sire Unfuwain.
Connections of top Kiwi 3YO Age Of Fire (Fastnet Rock-Dragon's Tail, by Galileo) have put a contingency plan in place following an injury to the Gr1 winner, reports NZ Racing Desk. "He got cast in his box and gave his tendon a whack," Te Akau principal David Ellis said. "After four days at the vet clinic he's now 100 per cent so it's onwards and upwards with him, but whether we get to the New Zealand Derby we're not 100 per cent certain." Ellis added: "We think if we can get him to the Avondale Guineas we can make the Derby, otherwise there's the Group One mile at Otaki (the WFA Classic), the Rosehill Guineas and then the ATC Derby." The Stephen Autridge & Jamie Richards-trained Age Of Fire enhanced his future stud value last start when he landed the Gr1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham. Age Of Fire has a yearling sister (Lot 172) who will be offered by Hallmark Stud during Book 1 at Karaka on 28 January.
Group 1-winning colt Embellish (Savabeel-Bling, by O'Reilly) is reportedly thriving ahead of the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on Saturday week (27 January), reports NZ Racing Desk. Last season's New Zealand 2000 Guineas winner is favourite for the Karaka Million Classic despite being beaten (4th) on his reappearance behind stable-mate and subsequent Gr1 Levin Classic winner Age Of Fire on Boxing Day. "He went and worked on the course proper at Ellerslie this morning [Monday] and Opie [Bosson] rode him and he was thrilled," Te Akau Racing principal and owner David Ellis said. Among Embellish's primary autumn targets is the $1 million Gr1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington in March. "He's a very classy colt and after the Karaka Million he'll race in Melbourne and then we'll take him to Sydney. It's exciting times for us," Ellis added.
At Trentham in New Zealand, Coolmore's former Gr1-winning Champion Australian Sire Fastnet Rock (Danehill-Piccadilly Circus, by Royal Academy) celebrated an elite race success when 3YO Australian-bred colt Age Of Fire (Fastnet Rock-Dragon's Tail, by Galileo) broke through for an overdue maiden stakes win in the $225,000 Gr1 Levin Classic (1600m) for 3YOs, defeating Belle Du Nord & Savvy Coup. Age Of Fire became the 32nd individual Group 1 winner for Fastnet Rock and the 52nd Group 1-winning graduate of Coolmore Australia. The beautifully bred and richly talented Age Of Fire improved his record to 3 wins and 3 placings (including the Gr1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas) from 6 starts for NZ$286,000 in earnings. "He is a lovely colt and his work in the last few weeks had been outstanding," jockey Opie Bosson told NZ Racing Desk. "He's a big horse, but light on his feet...once I got into the clear he showed that powerful finish." Age Of Fire is the equal $7 favourite for the Gr1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) with Demonetization and he is now likely to take on the older horses ahead of the Ellerslie classic. "My gut feeling is that we'll go to the Herbie Dyke Stakes [Gr1 at Te Rapa on 10 February] to give him another chance at a Group One," co-trainer Jamie Richards said. Purchased by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis for $400,000 at the 2016 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling sale from the draft of Erinvale Thoroughbreds, Age Of Fire hails from the family of Gr1 English 1000 Guineas & Gr1 French Guineas winner Highclere, dam of Gr1 winner and UK blue hen Height Of Fashion (Bustino). Height Of Fashion made her name in the breeding barn producing legendary racehorse Nashwan, his three-time Gr1 winning brother Nayef, and successful sire Unfuwain. Age Of Fire has a yearling sister (Lot 172) who will be offered by Hallmark Stud during Book 1 at Karaka on 28 January.
Top Kiwi 3YO Age Of Fire may be tested against older horses next month if he performs as expected in tomorrow's Gr1 Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham, reports NZ Racing Desk. Trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards have nominated Age Of Fire for the Gr1 weight-for-age Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on 10 February. "Everything is good with him," Richards said. "The big track and the step up to a mile will suit him." He added: "After this he could go to the Waikato Guineas, the Avondale Guineas or the Herbie Dyke is another option." Runner-up in the Gr1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) in the spring, Age Of Fire (Fastnet Rock-Dragon's Tail, by Galileo) resumed at Ellerslie on Boxing Day with a win over 1400m. Age Of Fire, whose yearling sister (Lot 172) will be offered by Hallmark Stud during the Book 1 Sale at Karaka on 28 January, is currently the $7 co-favourite for the New Zealand Derby (2400m) with Demonetization.
The owner of New Zealand Derby favourite Demonetization (All Too Hard-Midnight Special, by Zabeel) has knocked back some huge overseas offers for the colt, reports NZ Racing Desk. The exciting son of Vinery's 4-time Gr1 winning stallion All Too Hard has hitherto won 3 of his 4 starts, including the Gr2 Great Northern Guineas (1600m) at Auckland on New Year's Day. Trainer Nigel Tiley said Demonetization's Auckland-based owner Narendra Balia has no interest in selling him. "There's been a lot of interest in the horse and he's turned down some pretty big offers. He told me he's been waiting 25 years to get a good one so he just wants to race him," Tiley said. "He's come through the race really well," Tiley said. "I've given him a little freshen up since. He's in the stable, but I haven't put a saddle on him since. We'll start again on Monday." Demonetization is the $7 co-favourite with Age of Fire for the Gr1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on 3 March. "I'll either run him in the Benchmark 75 mile or the three-year-old race at set weights and penalties over 1400m at the Counties meeting on January 26," Tiley added. "He'll then go to the Avondale Guineas before the Derby."
Meanwhile, co-trainer Jamie Richards says high-profile stable-mates Embellish and Age Of Fire are back in work at Te Akau's Matamata stables, reports NZ Racing Desk. Embellish (Savabeel-Bling, by O'Reilly) and Age Of Fire (Fastnet Rock-Dragon's Tail, by Galileo) finished first and second respectively in last month's Gr1 New Zealand 2,000 Guineas, and the exciting colts are on track to resume on Boxing Day. "They're in good shape and both colts will run in the 1400m race at Ellerslie on Boxing Day with Embellish going to the Karaka Million 3YO Classic and Age Of Fire to the Levin Classic [Gr1]," Richards said.
At Riccarton in New Zealand, Waikato Stud's Cox Plate-winning champion sire Savabeel (Zabeel-Savannah Success, by Success Express) celebrated an elite race success when 3YO colt Embellish (Savabeel-Bling, by O'Reilly) showed a good turn of foot to draw clear for a stylish win in the $500,000 Gr1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) for 3YOs, defeating stable-mate Age Of Fire and Ever Loyal. Purchased by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis for $775,000 at the 2016 NZB Premier Yearling Sale from the draft of Waikato Stud, Embellish is out of the unraced mare Bling and is a full-brother to Gr1 NZ Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes winner Diademe. Embellish's Classic victory not only advanced his record to 3 wins and 1 placing from 4 starts for NZ$316,060 in earnings, but also assured his future at stud once he retires. "He's a very valuable colt and we would love to think that he will be standing at stud in the future," Ellis told NZ Racing Desk.
Jamie Richards is finding it difficult to tip the best prospect from the Te Akau Racing stable in Saturday's Gr1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton, reports NZ racing Desk. With training partner Stephen Autridge, the Matamata horseman will be represented by Embellish, Te Akau Shark and Age Of Fire in the three-year-old Classic. "It's very, very hard to split them," Richards said. "They have all done nothing wrong and they are all fit and happy and working well." Embellish (Savabeel-Bling, by O'Reilly), a brother to Gr1-winning mare Diademe, is the pre-post favourite for the Guineas after consecutive wins at Ruakaka and Trentham. "I know that Opie [Bosson] just loves Embellish and the horse isn't a brilliant track worker, but he is up to the mark," Richards said. The unbeaten Te Akau Shark (Rip Van Winkle-Bak da Chief, by Chief Bearhart) is yet to be tested after wins at Te Rapa and Matamata. "He's still quite new and having his third start in a Group One, but he deserves his place," Richards said. Age Of Fire (Fastnet Rock-Dragon's Tail, by Galileo) is the only one of the trio to be tested at black-type level, having finished third behind boom filly Prom Queen in the Gr3 John Griggs Stakes at his most recent outing. "Age Of Fire is probably the smokie in the race and he will love the mile at Riccarton being out of a Galileo mare," Richards said. "We're sure they will all run very well. They are lightly-tried horses and Embellish was the only one to run at two so they are still yet to peak."