Te Akau armed with strong Riccarton hand

Viva Vienna will contest the Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) at Riccarton on Saturday. Photo: Trish Dunell

Te Akau Racing is set to continue its successful southern spring campaign at Riccarton on Saturday, boasting several top contenders for the upcoming races.

Trainers Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson will be fielding Viva Vienna and Rhetorical in the Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m).

The pair had impressive performances earlier this month at the Christchurch track, with Viva Vienna finishing first and Rhetorical third over 1000m.

Bergerson commented on their progress, saying, “They have done well since September 2 when they ran. Viva Vienna’s performance was really good. She loves the gritty fight.”

He added, “Rhetorical will need to have improved a little bit to beat Viva Vienna and the Kenny Rae runner (Illicit Dreams), but we are really happy with her. It will be good to add some more black-type to her pedigree.”

Viva Vienna is the favourite at -111.11, followed by Illicit Dreams at +280, and Rhetorical at +650.

Te Akau’s The Mighty Spar and Prismatic are on the path to the Group 3 New Zealand Cup (3200m).

Bergerson spoke about their prospects, saying, “Prismatic gets in well in the 75 grade and up to 2000m should suit them both. Hopefully, this is a good springboard, and if they run nice enough races, we can map out a plan to the New Zealand Cup.”

Later in the day, Challa, a recent winner, aims to continue his strong performance in the South Island. Bergerson expressed confidence in the horse, especially with apprentice jockey Ngakau Hailey aboard, taking advantage of the four-kilo claim.

Te Akau Racing also has a significant presence at Te Rapa on Sunday, with half a dozen runners, including Group One winner On The Bubbles. Bergerson noted that the competition would be strong but expressed optimism about On The Bubbles’ form and competitiveness in the race.

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