IN Racing
Early feature double sets up another big Boxing Day for Te Akau
Te Akau Racing & Jamie Richards dominate at Ellerslie this Boxing Day.
NZ Racing Desk | December 26, 2021
Photo: Trish Dunell

A year on from their five-win bonanza on Boxing Day at Ellerslie last year, Te Akau Racing and trainer Jamie Richards got the 2021 edition of the famous fixture off to an eerily similar start.

Two-year-old Palamos kicked off the big haul 12 months ago, followed by star three-year-old filly Amarelinha in the Gr.2 Jamieson Park Eight Carat Classic (1600m) and Brando in the Listed Shaw’s Wire Ropes Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m). Sunday brought a sense of déjà vu with victories in the same three races.

Grace ‘N’ Grey headed a stable quinella in the Civic Contractors 1100 for two-year-olds, Belle En Rouge added the Eight Carat Classic to an outstanding run of form through the early stages of the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series, and one of last season’s elite two-year-olds On The Bubbles was back at his brilliant best in the Uncle Remus Stakes.

For good measure, Richards also had an early winner at Awapuni as the unbeaten Fortuna Syndications up-and-comer Mohawk Brave stormed home to capture the Aberdeen on Broadway 3YO (1200m).

Belle En Rouge’s heroics have brought special satisfaction for Richards and the Te Akau team, with the Burgundy filly being not only raced by the Te Akau Beautiful In Red Racing Partnership, but also bred by David Ellis and Karyn Fenton-Ellis.

A creditable third placegetter in the Gr.3 Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) in October and Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) in November, Belle En Rouge has gone to a new level in recent weeks with back-to-back black-type successes in the Gr.3 Eulogy Stakes (1600m) and the Eight Carat Classic.

Sent out as a $2.20 favourite on Sunday, Belle En Rouge enjoyed a cosy run just behind the front-running Lady Koval before taking command at the turn.

Jockey Opie Bosson drove her clear down the straight, and she put herself out of reach of strong-finishing longshots The High Priestess and Princess Lowry to win by three-quarters of a length.

Belle En Rouge has now had seven starts for three wins and three placings, earning more than $158,000 in stakes and moving into a clear lead in the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year Series with 19 points. Stablemate The Perfect Pink, who won last month’s Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton, is in second place with 12 points.

“She was given a lovely ride by Opie, who summed it up perfectly,” Richards said. “There was no tempo down the back, and he was able to get her up into the right spot.

“She’s just a good, genuine, honest filly. She can be a bit hard to get a line on around the stables, but she turns up when it matters.

“She’s been busy – going down to Riccarton, then through to Palmy and now up to Ellerslie today, and she’s done a wonderful job. We’ll look after her and she probably won’t run again for a month or so now.

“She was bred by David and Karyn, and it’s great to pick up a Group Two win with a homebred filly.”

Belle En Rouge’s next target is likely to be another special race for the stable – the Gr.2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 12.

Just one race later Richards and Bosson combined once again as On The Bubbles inflicted the first defeat on fellow three-year-old and race favourite Pareanui Bay, when he held out a strong challenge from the Tony Pike-trained runner in the Uncle Remus Stakes.

Second-up after a lengthy break following his Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) victory to round out a stunning debut season that also saw him capture the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m), On The Bubbles showed he will be a force to be reckoned with over the summer with a commanding performance.

Settled on the back of the early speed, Bosson attacked on the home corner as he shot his mount to the front shortly after straightening and then cuddled him up as he waited for the inevitable challenge from Pareanui Bay.

Bosson asked for the supreme effort at the 200m as the pair set down to fight out the finish with On The Bubbles holding a half-length margin at the line, as Marchand dashed into third.

It was a tough effort as the set weights and penalties conditions doesn’t really suit him,” Richards said.

“He had to carry the weight (60.5kgs) and much like the filly (Belle En Rouge) in the previous, he was aided by a top ride by Opie.

“He put him in a good position and he toughed it out all the way up the straight.

“He is tough and genuine and gives 100 percent, so it was a really good effort.”

Richards will now aim On The Bubbles for the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on January 22 where TAB bookmakers have him as the dominant $2.80 favourite.

“He had the improvement under his belt from last time and I was quietly confident,” Bosson said.

“I heard them coming and so did he, so he put his head out and dug in some more.

“It just shows how good he is.”

Meanwhile, both front-running filly Grace ‘N’ Grey and promising first-starter Dynastic have put themselves in the frame for next month’s Doubletree by Hilton Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) with their one-two finish in the Civic Contractors 1100.

“Danielle (Johnson) did a good on Grace ‘N’ Grey, dictating the pace,” Richards said. “She got a couple of cheap sectionals across the top and quickened well off the corner. She still lacks a bit of ringcraft, but it’s good to get her up here to Ellerslie and have a look around before the Karaka Million.

“Dynastic did it tough out there, three wide, but I was pleased with the way he found the line. He’s a colt we’ve got a lot of time for. Time will be his friend, but we’ll play around with him for the next week to 10 days and make a call. He’d be on the cusp regarding prize-money to get in to the Karaka Million.

“But they’re two really nice horses that Dave bought at Karaka.”

Richards was at it again just two races later when he produce Festivity and Vamos Bebe to quinella the Listed Hallmark Stud Handicap (1200m) for his third stakes victory on the day.