Te Akau has been the all-conquering force in New Zealand juvenile racing for some time and they have another Group One two-year-old title firmly in their sights at Ellerslie this weekend.
The Matamata operation has claimed the last six editions of the Karaka Million 2YO and sent out the last four winners of the Group 1 Sistema Stakes (1200m).
Exciting Almanzor colt Dynastic continued Te Akau’s domination of the Karaka Million with his last-start victory and he will head a three-pronged attack on this Sunday’s running of the Sistema.
He trialled well last week when runner-up in an open 1000m heat at Avondale and will go head-to-head with his undefeated stablemate Maven Belle and another black-type performer in I Choose You.
Trainer Jamie Richards, whose move to Hong Kong has been delayed for a month, has an abundance of young talent under his care and has been more than satisfied with his Sistema trio.
“There wouldn’t be a lot between Dynastic and Maven Belle and I Choose You is open to a little bit of improvement after her first-up run,” he said.
“Dynastic trialled well the other day and he worked well this (Tuesday) morning so everything is going to plan with him.”
Runner-up in his Boxing Day debut at Ellerslie, the youngster was then a decisive winner of the Karaka Million to give rider Opie Bosson five of the last six winners of New Zealand’s richest two-year-old event.
Bosson will continue his association with Dynastic on Sunday and he will be shooting for five straight victories in the Sistema.
Maven Belle won the Group 3 Platinum Homes 2YO Classic (1200m) at Te Rapa off the back of her first-up success at Te Aroha and also landed the top honours in the Group 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) on her home turf at her most recent appearance.
Ryan Elliot partnered the Burgundy filly last time out and has retained the mount while Michael McNab will be aboard I Choose You.
I Choose You was also a winner at the first time of asking at Te Aroha before she finished third in the Group 2 Eclipse Stakes (1200m).
The daughter of I Am Invincible returned after a let-up to run third behind barn mate Maven Belle in the Breeders’ Stakes.
Richards will also be represented by Te Akau Caliburn in the Group 2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m), an imported son of Camelot who has been largely frustrating since arriving in New Zealand as a dual winner in England.
He did win a Rating 82 event at Awapuni in 2020 in his second appearance and ran second in the Listed New Zealand St Leger (2600m). However, he has since struggled and most recently was unplaced in the Nathans Memorial (2200m) behind Swords Drawn.
“He’s been a disappointing horse and I thought he ran okay the other day. Swords Drawn dropped in on him at the wrong time and held up his momentum a bit,” Richards said.
“He’s no star, but he is a genuine stayer and I think we just have to keep going with him.”
Richards will be making a well-publicised move to Hong Kong to further his training career, although his departure from New Zealand has been moved back.
“I will be going in May and not April, which is just due to COVID issues,” he said.
After Ellerslie on Sunday, he will chase another Group One title before he does leave with Richards confirming The Perfect Pink to head to the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on March 19.
She won the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) in the spring and more recently finished runner-up in the Group 2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) and sixth on a Dead5 track in the Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2000m).
“She will be trialling tomorrow (at Cambridge) and she’s ready – I am happy with her,” Richards said.