Just like in so many other showpiece racedays in New Zealand in the last few seasons, Te Akau Racing ran rampant through the black-type features on New Year’s Day at Te Rapa.
Campionessa and Belle En Rouge capped the gold rush with a quinella in the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m), providing the cherry on top of an afternoon that previously produced victories by Imperatriz in the Gr.1 Sistema Railway (1200m) and Trobriand in the Gr.2 Carlaw Park Eclipse Stakes (1200m).
The winning treble lifted premiership-leading trainer Mark Walker to 89 wins so far this season, including 15 at black-type level, and all of Sunday’s three winners were ridden by the stable’s star jockey Opie Bosson.
“We’re having a heck of a season, and we’re starting 2023 in the same vein as 2022,” Te Akau’s Karyn Fenton-Ellis said. “Long may it continue!
“The Rich Hill Mile is a very special race on the New Zealand calendar that everyone wants to win, so we’re delighted to have the quinella this afternoon.
“Mark Walker is such a master craftsman, and all of the team around him work extremely hard, and we’re so proud of them all.
“Most importantly, we’re so grateful to all of the owners that believe in Te Akau and buy shares in our horses. It means a lot to get results like these for them.”
Campionessa’s Rich Hill Mile triumph was a particularly notable training feat by Walker, who freshened the five-year-old daughter of Contributer following her last-start staying success in the Listed Metropolitan Trophy (2500m) at Riccarton on November 5.
Racing over barely more than half of that distance on Sunday, Campionessa produced a dynamic performance. Bosson settled in the back half of the field before letting her rip down the Te Rapa straight, bounding past the front-running Dragon Queen and drawing clear to win by two and a half lengths.
Last season’s Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) heroine Belle En Rouge continued her summer form resurgence with a late run into second, edging out Dragon Queen by a neck.
“Campionessa freshened up really nicely after Riccarton,” Walker said. “Our racing manager, Reece Trumper, suggested this race as a possible target. I asked him if it might be a little bit too rich for her at this stage of her career, but he really wanted to have a crack at it. This result is a real credit to him.
“It was a very good performance today, and we might have to set our sights a bit higher after this.
“I also think Belle En Rouge ran a really good race. She lost her form a little bit in the spring, but she seems to be coming back well on the better tracks.”
Walker deflected the credit for Sunday’s big treble on to Bosson and the big team of staff that makes up the Te Akau operation.
“Opie is really in the zone on these big days, and you really wouldn’t find one better than him on days like this,” Walker said. “And we have such a great team around us, made up of mainly young people. It’s just me and Scott Lucock representing the older ones. They all do a fantastic job.”
Campionessa was bred by Simms Davison, who offered her as part of his Mapperley Stud draft at Karaka in 2019. She was passed in, but was later bought by David Ellis for A$60,000 on the Gold Coast.
From 18 starts, Campionessa has picked up seven wins and six placings, earning $232,135 in stakes for the Te Akau Campionessa Syndicate.