The 47th New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series begins at Hastings on Saturday with the $70,000 Gr3 Hawke's Bay Breeders' Gold Trail Stakes (1200m). The prestigious Series is made up of 10 Group races, over distances ranging from 1200 to 2400 metres, between September and March. The New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year winner immediately becomes a highly valuable breeding proposition and earns her connections $50,000 in bonus cheques including $10,000 for her breeder, $10,000 for her trainer and $30,000 for her owner. The Gold Trail Stakes is the shortest race of the Series, but has often provided an early glimpse of outstanding talent with past winners including Snap, Taatletail, Anabandana, and Bounding. This year's field is headed by the champion 2YO Avantage (Fastnet Rock). Bought for $210,000 at the 2017 Premier Sale, Avantage has won five of her six starts including the Karaka Million (1200m) and the Gr1 Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes (1400m). Click here to view commentary on each runner.
Talented Kiwi 3YO Sword Of Osman is set to resume in the Gr3 Cambridge Stud Northland Breeders' Stakes (1200m) at Ruakaka on Saturday, reports NZ Racing Desk. Sword Of Osman won three of his five starts as a juvenile with his biggest win being the Gr1 Sistema Stakes (formerly Diamond Stakes) where he defeated stable-mate and Champion New Zealand 2YO Avantage. Trainer Jamie Richards said the son of Savabeel's primary spring target is the Gr1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November. "He has had two trials to get him ready to return and they have both been pretty good," Richards said. "We were keen to get him in behind a couple and just give him some options. Hopefully he's not going to be just one dimensional. He got back and over-raced a little bit in the trials and that's probably taken the sprint out of him, but we've been pleased with him."
Last season's Champion New Zealand 2YO Avantage (Fastnet Rock-Asavant, by Zabeel) is likely to make her three-year-old debut in the Gr3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings on 22 September. Avantage had an exhibition gallop with stable-mate Chance To Dance between races at Hastings on Saturday, galloping 1000 metres in 1:02.5 with a last 600m in 34.5 seconds. "It was nice to get Avantage on a good track, a day away at the races, sunshine to bring her coat on, and I like the way she was cocking her ears and having a bit of a look around like she used to do last season and I think she's where she needs to be," trainer Jamie Richards told the Te Akau Racing website. Avantage had a brilliant juvenile season winning 5 of her 6 starts, including the Gr1 Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes and Karaka Million.
The 2018 New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards were held at a gala dinner in Auckland on Sunday night, reports NZ Racing Desk. The major category winners were:
Graduates of the Karaka sales complex had a spectacular night at Sunday’s New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards in Auckland, scooping seven awards including a second Horse of the Year title for Bonneval (NZ) (Makfi). Karaka graduates also dominated the age-group categories. Victories in the Karaka Million (1200m) and Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) earned Champion 2YO honours for the $210,000 Premier Sale purchase Avantage (Fastnet Rock), while NZ Oaks winner and $65,000 Select Sale purchase Savvy Coup claimed the Champion 3YO title. Other winners were $90,000 Premier Sale purchase Charles Road (Champion Stayer, $37,500 South Island Sale purchase Wise Men Say (Champion Jumper), and $26,000 Select Sale purchase Dijon Bleu was the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year.
Last season’s leading juvenile in New Zealand is set to start the build up to her first sophomore campaign, reports NZ Racing Desk. Avantage, a daughter of Coolmore stalwart Fastnet Rock, is likely to have her first trial at either Te Rapa on 21 August or at Taupo on 22 August. With the One Thousand Guineas at Riccarton her primary goal, Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards revealed, “She hasn’t grown a lot, but she’s strengthened up a bit and is coming to hand. The trial will tell us where to run her first-up, either the Gold Trail Stakes or the Canterbury Belle Stakes – both are over 1200m on the same day (September 22).” Avantage won 5 of her 6 starts as a juvenile, including the Karaka Million and Gr1 Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes. Her sole defeat was when runner-up to stablemate Sword Of Osman in the Gr1 Sistema Stakes.
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."
At Awapuni 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 high-class 2YO Australian-bred filly Avantage (Fastnet Rock-Asavant, by Zabeel) showed a good turn of foot to score a dominant win in the $225,000 Gr1 Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) for 2YOs, defeating Melt & Sir Nate. From the stakes winning Zabeel mare Asavant, Avantage was a $210,000 purchase by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis at the 2017 NZB Premier Yearling Sale from the draft of The Oaks Stud. She improved her record to 5 wins (including the Listed Karaka Million 2YO) and 1 placing (the Gr1 Sistema Diamond Stakes) from 6 starts for NZ$742,370 in earnings. Co-trainer Jamie Richards said Avantage would now be sent for a break to prepare for the NZ 1000 Guineas in the spring. "He's got some value now, bring on the 1000 Guineas in the spring," Richards told NZ Racing Desk. "She's a lovely filly and a pleasure to have around the stable."
Top Te Akau Racing juveniles Sword Of Osman and Avantage will renew their Group One rivalry at Awapuni later this month, reports NZ Racing Desk. The talented stable-mates are confirmed starters for the $225,000 Group 1 Manawatu Sires' Produce Stakes (1400m) on 31 March. The Stephen Autridge & Jamie Richards-trained pair have met twice with Avantage taking top honours when winning the Karaka Million (1200m) before Sword Of Osman (Savabeel) evened the score with his defeat of the Fastnet Rock filly in last Saturday's Gr1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie. Te Akau principal David Ellis said: "We think he's [Sword Of Osman] probably six months away in his development so we will give him one more run before he goes to the paddock. When he returns we'll be getting him ready for the Hawke's Bay Guineas and the 2000 Guineas at Christchurch." Ellis added: "Avantage has come through the race really well and if we're still happy with her in the next few days she will go to the Sires' Produce as well. We want to give her the opportunity to get a Group One win."
At Ellerslie in Auckland in the first of three Gr1 features (all taken out by NZB graduates) Waikato Stud's Cox Plate winning multiple champion stallion Savabeel (Zabeel-Savannah Success, by Success Express) celebrated a Gr1 triumph when 2YO gelding Sword Of Osman (Savabeel-Bunyah, by Distant View) scored by 1.3-lengths for trainers Steven Autridge & Jamie Richards in the $200,000 Gr1 Sistema Diamond Stakes (1200m) for 2YOs, defeating stablemate 2YO filly Avantage & 2YO filly Spanish Whisper. Purchased for $165,000 by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis at the 2017 NZ Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale from the Trelawney Stud draft, Sword Of Osman was ridden by Opie Bosson who speared him straght to the lead before holding off the rapidly closing Advantage. "The whole race he relaxed beautifully in front," Bosson enthused. "He changed legs a few times, but he just kept running. He's very, very good. He's amazing. He's like a three-year-old now. I can't wait for his three-year-old career." He improved his record to 3 wins (including last start's Gr3 Slipper Stakes at Matamata) from 4 starts for $188,250 in earnings. The result has catapulted Savabeel to more than double the earnings of his nearest competitor on the New Zealand General Sires table, almost guaranteeing him a third consecutive stallion title.
Boom Kiwi filly Avantage won't race again until next month's the Gr1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie, reports NZ Racing Desk. The Australian-bred daughter of Fastnet Rock showed why she is considered the best juvenile in New Zealand when extending her unbeaten record to 4 wins from 4 starts in the $1 million Listed Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie last month. "We're pleased with the way she came through that run and she'll be going straight to the Sistema Stakes on March 10," said Jamie Richards, who trains the Te Akau Racing-owned filly in partnership with Stephen Autridge.
At Ellerslie in New Zealand, Coolmore's former Gr1-winning Champion Australian Sire Fastnet Rock (Danehill-Piccadilly Circus, by Royal Academy) added a restricted black-type success when high-class 2YO Australian-bred filly Avantage (Fastnet Rock-Asavant, by Zabeel) showed why she is considered the best juvenile in New Zealand when scoring a dominant win in the $1 million Listed Karaka Million 2YO (1200m), defeating stable-mate Al Hasa & Bocce. From the stakes winning Zabeel mare Asavant, Avantage was a $210,000 purchase by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis at the 2017 NZB Premier Yearling Sale from the draft of The Oaks Stud. Her Karaka Million win extended her unbeaten record to 4 wins from 4 starts for NZ$592,120 in earnings. Ellis was thrilled with the win. "Opie [jockey Opie Bosson] told me early on she was a high-class filly. She trialled at Te Teko back in August and has just shown us so much all the way through," Ellis told NZ Racing Desk. "She is owned by a terrific bunch of people who are just over the moon. It's a life-changing experience for them."
At Sha Tin racecourse in Hong Kong, The Oaks Stud's 5-time Gr1-winning & 5-time Gr1-placed stallion Darci Brahma (Danehill-Grand Echezeaux, by Zabeel) celebrated an elite race success when 5YO Australian-bred gelding DB Pin (Darci Brahma-Pins 'n' Needles, by Pins) unleashed a withering late burst to land the biggest prize of his career in the HK$10 million Gr1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m), defeating Mr Stunning & Beat The Clock. Purchased for $200,000 by esteemed bloodstock agent John Foote at the 2014 NZB Premier Yearling Sale from the draft of The Oaks Stud, DB Pin improved his record to 6 wins and 7 placings (including the Gr1 Hong Kong Sprint) from 14 starts for HK$16,603,700 in earnings. He is a half-brother to the dam of last Saturday's Karaka Million winner Avantage.
Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards have two well-credentialed youngsters to lead the stable's defence of a prized title at Ellerslie next month, reports NZ Racing Desk. Impressive last-start winner Al Hasa Al Hasa (Exceed And Excel-Oasis Rose, by Oasis Dream) and the unbeaten Avantage (Fastnet Rock-Asavant, by Zabeel) are on target for the Karaka Million (1200m), a race the Te Akau operation won last season with champion 2YO Melody Belle. "Al Hasa will go to the Eclipse Stakes on New Year's Day and he's just got to keep improving, and we believe he will, and then it will be three and a-half weeks into the Million," Richards said of the well-bred colt who was a brilliant 6 length winner of the Listed Welcome Stakes (1000m) at Riccarton at his most recent outing. Meanwhile, stable-mate Avantage has shown plenty of promise winning both her starts at Riccarton by wide margins. "She'll have one more run before the Karaka Million, but we've yet to decide when that will be," Richards said.
Meanwhile, the race to the richest meeting on the New Zealand calendar has begun with a number of talented youngsters vying for a start. 2018 is set to showcase the enhanced Series with the $1 million Karaka Million 3YO Classic a new addition to the $1 million Karaka Million 2YO. The feature events will include a sensational support card of four Group races to be run at the Auckland Racing Club.
One of the wildcard entries for this year's Arc Sale at Arqana (held on Saturday prior to Lonchamp's Arc meeting) has topped the session when selling for €700,000 to the bid of agent Hubie De Burgh. Undefeated 2YO colt Mutin (Kentucky Dynamite-Mytographie, by Anabaa) was purchased for an unnamed client, with De Burgh saying that it was for an established owner. Also active at the top end was Asian Bloodstock who paid €380,000 for Avantage & €320,000 for Cay Verde, both purchased on behalf of Hong Kong owner Howard Liang. Overall, including private sales, the sale's aggregate was €4,435,500 at an average of €150,808.
Deceased former Widden Stud shuttler Anabaa (Danzig-Balbonella, by Gay Mecene) added a black-type success at Deauville in France when juvenile Style Vendome (Anabaa–Place Vendome, by Dr Fong) scored by 0.75-length for trainer N.Clement over One Word More (Thousand Words-Somoushe, by Black Minnaloushe) & Avantage (Layman–Territorial, by Selkirk) in the Listed Prix Francois Boutin (1400m) for 2YO colts. Style Vendome took his record to 2 wins and a placing from 3 starts for €48,500 earnings. It was his first victory at stakes level and he is the 82nd stakes winner for his sire Anabaa.