Te Akau Racing secured their second consecutive Listed Karaka Million (1200m) when flying filly Avantage carried their tangerine and blue colours to victory at Ellerslie.
The Fastnet Rock filly started favourite in the race after she had been unbeaten in her first three starts including an impressive win at her first look around Ellerslie a fortnight ago. With five Te Akau runners in the event, the choice of the stable’s leading rider, Opie Bosson, was a crucial indicator as he plumped for Avantage despite the filly carrying 54.5kgs, a weight that is normally out of reach for the heavyweight rider.
Earlier in the evening Bosson had indicated he was struggling badly to meet the lightweight target however he weighed out at the correct mark, determined to reap the rewards of the battle.
What followed was a picture-perfect display on Avantage as he utilised an inside barrier draw to have the filly tracking the speed throughout. Asked to move into contention, Avantage lengthened beautifully to snatch the lead from pacemaker Bocce at the 200m mark and hold out the challenge of stablemate Al Hasa who stormed home late for visiting rider Hugh Bowman. Bocce clung grimly to third from stablemate She’s A Thief who battled gamely after being held up approaching the home turn.
“I always knew she was the one to ride and the only worry I had was trying to make the weight,” said Bosson.
“I busted my a… to do it and even this morning I was thinking I wish I had picked one of the colts as it would have been easier.
“When something like this happens it’s really worth it.
“She’s just a natural racehorse which makes the job so much easier. She really impressed me first-up and had so much improvement in her.
“I got the perfect run although turning for home I thought the leader had us in trouble. Once she balanced up she really stepped up and it was all over.”
Te Akau racing boss David Ellis was one of many to pay tribute to Bosson after the race.
“This is the biggest thrill you can have in a lifetime,” he said.
“Opie has worked so hard to get down to the weight to ride this horse, he’s just a legend.
“Hughie Bowman was also a beautiful ride on Al Hasa and all our runners went well.”
Ellis bought Avantage for $210,000 out of the Oaks Stud Premier draft at the 2017 Karaka Yearling Sale, a figure he felt was cheap considering the filly’s pedigree.
“I paid $210,00 for her, which for a Fastnet Rock filly was great buying,” he said.
“Opie 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.
“She is owned by a terrific bunch of people who are just over the moon. It’s a life-changing experience for them.”
Ellis will now turn his attention to securing the next group of quality yearlings for the Te Akau team during the 2018 edition of the NZB National Yearling Sale which commences at 5pm at Karaka on Sunday.