Te Akau extends Karaka Million dominance

On The Bubbles
Jockey Johnathan Parkes is a picture of determination as he drives On The Bubbles to the line at Ellerslie. Photo Credit: Trish Dunell

A brilliant performance by On The Bubbles, chased home by three of his stablemates, has added another chapter to trainer Jamie Richards and the Te Akau Racing team’s incredible dominance of the DoubleTree by Hilton Karaka Million 2YO (1200m).

The undefeated Brazen Beau gelding overcame a horror draw for an emphatic victory at Ellerslie on Saturday, scoring by a length and three-quarters from stablemates Sneaky Shark, Avonallo and Sophisticardo.

Richards and the Te Akau syndication juggernaut have now won the Karaka Million 2YO five years in a row, and Saturday’s unprecedented clean sweep of the first four placings follows two previous quinellas and a trifecta. “I’ve always said that racing is an opportunity to make dreams into reality,” syndicate manager Karyn Fenton-Ellis said.

“A five-peat in the Karaka Million is beyond our wildest dreams. “It’s amazing to add another win today, after winning this iconic race in all of the last four years, and also having Probabeel come back last year to become the first horse to ever complete the Karaka Million 2YO-Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) double.”

Bought for $90,000 from Leanach Lodge’s draft in Book 1 of Karaka 2020, On The Bubbles began his career with an all-the-way win at Awapuni in late December, which he followed up with a dominant performance at Ellerslie a fortnight ago. He headed Karaka Million betting at the beginning of the week, but his stocks slipped when he landed the extreme outside gate in Wednesday’s barrier draw.

There was never any need to worry. An ice-cool ride from Johnathan Parkes saw On The Bubbles slide forward into an ideal position in fourth, one off the rail, within the first 400m. Avonallo led the field around the home turn, but a sea of tangerine was forming behind him.

On The Bubbles blasted out of that bunch and charged to the lead in the straight. He was challenged on both sides by stablemates Sneaky Shark and Sophisticardo, with Avonallo sticking on bravely along the rail, but On The Bubbles asserted his superiority and stretched out to win by a length and three-quarters.

“I’m very grateful to the connections for entrusting me with the ride,” Parkes said. “He’s a super horse and he’s done really well. “I got caught wide in the early stages, and I had to decide whether to go back or forward. I decided that I might as well keep rolling and go forward. He makes it easy with his cruising speed. “His first win at Awapuni last month was impressive, and I thought he improved quite a lot when he came here and won a couple of weeks ago. He’s done that again today. It’s exciting.”

Richards paid tribute to Parkes, whose half-dozen previous wins for the stable include the Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) at this course on superstar Gingernuts. “It was a lovely ride by Johnathan,” Richards said.

“After breaking from the outside gate, it was a big effort to get into that good spot, and a great performance from the horse. “This is a big team effort, and I’m really proud of the whole team. All of our horses ran well today. They all produced big performances, although perhaps Millefiori (eighth) didn’t quite handle the quick back-up from Tauranga last week. She’ll make a lovely three-year-old in time.

“Sneaky Shark ran a great race for second, and Avonallo and Sophisticardo both fought on really well for those third and fourth placings. “I have to say thank you to David and Karyn for buying these lovely horses, and scenes like this today are what racing’s all about. There’s a great young group of owners involved in this horse, and this is a fantastic result for them.”

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