Te Akau Racing’s unmistakable tangerine and blue colours once again signalled their formidable presence in South Island racing, unveiling strong contenders for future accolades at Riccarton on Saturday.
In the spotlight was Viva Vienna, a Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) hopeful. The three-year-old filly commenced her campaign impressively, triumphing over her peers in a 1000m race. Jockey Sam Weatherley guided her skillfully from an inside barrier (3), where she engaged in a fierce duel with Illicit Dreams, another northern challenger. Viva Vienna displayed unwavering determination, clinching victory by a mere head, with stablemate Rhetorical securing third place.
Shortly thereafter, the stylish four-year-old Insatiable, ridden by Opie Bosson, cruised to victory in a 1000m race for rating 65 horses. Insatiable had previously caught attention with a fourth-place finish behind the quality mare Skew Wiff in a competitive 900m trial at Te Rapa, priming him for this campaign opener.
Co-trainer Sam Bergerson, in partnership with Mark Walker, expressed satisfaction with their early-season performance on the path to the New Zealand Cup Carnival in November.
Bergerson praised Viva Vienna’s tenacity and revealed her next target as the Canterbury Belle (Listed 1200m), followed by a hopeful bid at the 1000 Guineas.
Regarding Insatiable, Bergerson acknowledged the horse’s previous inconsistencies but noted that maturity seemed to be the key to his resurgence. The Stewards (Group 3, 1200m) during the Cup Carnival could be on the horizon for him after this strong performance.
Both winners are progeny of All Too Hard, a former Australian champion three-year-old with an impressive Group 1 record during his brief racing career before retirement.
Viva Vienna, acquired by Te Akau Racing’s David Ellis for $100,000 at the 2022 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale from Westbury Stud’s Book 1 draft, has now secured three wins in six career starts.
Insatiable, purchased by Ellis for $190,000 from the Windsor Park Book 1 draft at Karaka in 2021, boasts a pedigree that includes Translate, a useful Australian mare with a Group Three victory and a runner-up finish in the 2012 Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington.
The winning streak didn’t stop at two for trainers Walker and Bergerson. They swiftly added a third victory with sprinter Challa, who led from start to finish in an open 1000m contest under Opie Bosson’s guidance. Additionally, promising mare It’s Business Time secured their fourth consecutive win, effortlessly crossing the finish line four lengths ahead in a rating 75 1200m race.
Bergerson spoke highly of Challa’s longevity and enthusiasm for racing, while It’s Business Time, despite initial doubts about the 1200m distance, has the Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (Group 3, 1600m) on her radar if she can secure the right weight allocation.
Te Akau Racing’s dominance extended beyond Riccarton as Bellatrix Star claimed the first two-year-old event of the season, winning the 800m race at Wanganui with jockey Michael McNab aboard.