Ken Rae has introduced another promising three-year-old to the winner’s circle, with Bezique breaking his maiden in style against the older horses in the Harcourts Bream Bay and Waipu (1200m) on Saturday at Ruakaka.
A son of young Rich Hill-based stallion Ace High, Bezique was sent straight onto the pace by Jasmine Fawcett and despite racing greenly in the home straight, showing his quality to eventually pull away by
three-quarters of a length from Rising Tide, a son of champion mare Seachange.
“He’s a very lovely horse and always has been,” Rae said.
Ruakaka-based Rae, who trains in partnership with daughter Krystal Williams, had recently sold the promising colt Whiskey Lies to Hong Kong following a dominant victory in the ITM/GIB 2YO Winter Championship Final (1200m) last month.
Northland locals Mal Barratt and Tania Patterson, who formerly owned Whiskey Lies, also purchased Bezique for $20,000 out of his breeder Gordon Cunnigham’s Curraghmore draft at the 2022 National Yearling Sales at Karaka.
“He’s been on par with Whiskey Lies but has just been a wee bit behind the eight-ball training wise,” Rae said.
“He’s definitely a horse going places.”
Stablemate Tide and Time was one-and-a-quarter lengths back in third and the Time Test filly is another Rae rates in his three-year-old contingent.
“She’s a lovely horse but she’s a wee bit weak at the moment, she and Bezique need to go further in distance but she’s not quite strong enough yet.”
Rae was also pleased with the runner-up finish of Dancing Dream in the Gr.3 Cambridge Stud Northland Breeders Stakes (1200m), behind a classy winner in Crocetti, who is now unbeaten in three starts.
“She went very well, she’s probably the best maidener in the country,” he said.
“Because there’s races here at Ruakaka, these horses will stay in work for another two or three weeks and race on their home track, which saves their owners expenses like transport while it is easier on the young ones.”
Bezique, alongside Tide and Time, will be targeted for the 3YO 1400m event at Ruakaka next month before the former likely heads south to William’s Christchurch base ahead of a potential tilt at the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld 51st New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) on November 11.
“I’ll probably end up with three or four of them in the 1400m 3YO race, it’s educating your horses at your home track at no cost,” Rae said.
“Bezique will be targeted for that then he’ll probably head down to Riccarton for the 2000 Guineas if he’s good enough, or in a lower grade race if not.”
The victory also marked a special day for Rich Hill Stud’s Ace High, Bezique’s victory a breakthrough first winner for the son of High Chaparral.
Ace High was an Australian star during his racing career with a brace of top-flight victories from the Sydney stable of David Payne, including the Gr.1 Victoria Derby (2500m) and the Gr.1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) before retiring to stud in 2019 under the care of Rich Hill studmaster John Thompson, where he has now made his mark early in his stallion career.
“That was great, it’s really exciting and a fantastic feeling. That’s going to be the first of many winners for the stallion,” Thompson said.
“Ace High was a dual Group One winner in Australia and he won the Spring Champion Stakes, which horses like Dundeel and Savabeel have won, so it is a sire making race.
“We’ve had great feedback on the Ace High’s and he’s had five trial winners and a number of placegetters.
“Some of those trial horses have gone to Australia and they know all about him over there.”