IN Racing
HK audience celebrates 2YO success at Cambridge
“He’s a lovely horse and while it didn’t look overly impressive because he walked and only just won, he’s extremely green."
Paul Vettise, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | June 12, 2024
Target Audience winning at Cambridge on Wednesday. Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

Target Audience’s New Zealand racing career will be brief, but the youngster made it a memorable one with a debut victory at Cambridge on Wednesday.

The Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray-trained juvenile led all the way to win the Entain/NZB Insurance Pearl Series Race (1300m) on his home synthetic track.

The son of Derryn attracted overseas interest following a trial success at Avondale last month and recently changed ownership.

“He’ll be going up to Hong Kong, the horse was vetted after his last trial and the money came through this week,” Ritchie said.

“He’s obviously a very smart horse and he can only get better.”

Target Audience lobbed along in front under rider Michael McNab and kicked in the straight to defeat another first-timer in Vesphire.

“He’s a lovely horse and while it didn’t look overly impressive because he walked and only just won, he’s extremely green,” Ritchie said.

“He was pricking his ears throughout the race and can only improve.

“We’re not 100 percent sure if this qualifies him, so he may have to have another start here and his ringcraft will be much better if he does.

“If he doesn’t, then job done, and he goes to Hong Kong and hopefully performs well and flies the New Zealand flag and they come back and buy some more.”

Inside family knowledge came into play when Ritchie secured Target Audience at Karaka last year.

The Cambridge trainer purchased the son of Derryn out of Grangewilliam Stud’s draft at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale for $70,000.

He is a son of the Magic Ring mare Magic Tryst, who won on five occasions and was a multiple black-type placegetter when trained by Ritchie’s brother Craig.

“Dad (Frank) and Craig also trained (granddam) Our Tristajet and they were extremely fast horses,” Ritchie said.

“They would fly the gates and were hard to restrain and lead easily and usually keep going and occasionally get run down, so they were exciting sprinters to watch.

“The main thing of course is that they had a ton of speed and Colm and I were very mindful that we don’t have that many two-year-old winners.

“We’ve tried this year to buy a couple of horses that will be able to hit the ground running and Target Audience was one from last year.”

The gelding has been a work in progress and still far from the finished article.

“His greenness has stopped us from getting him to the races until this point,” Ritchie said.

“He had three trials and only got mildly better, but he will in time. He’s a kind horse around the stable but gets on the racetrack and thinks it’s all a big game."

Target Audience Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray Michael McNab Derryn Grangewilliam Stud