IN Racing
Skyman still in the hunt for minor summer series bonus
It is certainly a good carrot with the second and third bonus prizemoney. It will be interesting to see what the field looks like.”
Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | February 20, 2024
Skyman is set to contest the Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie next month. Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

Go Racing’s Albert Bosma is resigned to the fact that Skyman is out of the chase for the lion’s share of the $650,000 summer series bonus, but he is hoping they can get their hands on some of the minor bonus cash up for grabs.

Entain Australia and New Zealand joined forces with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing to introduce the New Zealand Summer Series Bonus, targeted at New Zealand’s middle-distance events over the warmer months.

The series is running across four races between January and March, rewarding $500,000 to the series winner, $100,000 to the runner-up and $50,000 for the third placegetter, with the associated trainers taking home 10 percent of the bonus payments.

To become eligible for the bonus, a horse needed to have contested either of the first two legs of the series – the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham on January 20 or $1 million Aotearoa Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on January 27.

Skyman picked up two series points when fifth in the Thorndon Mile, qualifying him for the bonus, and gave trainer Stephen Marsh the confidence to press on to the third leg of the series with his gelding, the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on February 10. He finished 10th in the $600,000 feature but picked up three series points.

Bosma believes their British-bred raider was a victim of circumstance in the Herbie Dyke Stakes and is confident of a better showing in the fourth and final leg of the series – the Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie on March 9.

“His run in the Thorndon was very good on an unsettled track,” Bosma said. “In the Herbie Dyke, he got in the wrong spot and got shuffled back to last on the turn and the race was over. It was unfortunate, he should have finished a lot closer if we had a little bit of luck in the running.

“He will go to the Bonecrusher on the 9th at Ellerslie. Most of his form in Australia he was better right-handed than left, so we are looking forward to getting him right-handed at Ellerslie. I am confident you are going to see him run a lot better, it was more circumstance in the Herbie Dyke than anything else.”

The series points table currently stands with Legarto the clear leader with 20.5 points, followed by Campionessa (12.5), One Bold Cat (10.5), Puntura and Desert Lighning (9), Lady Telena (8), El Vencedor (7), and Sharp ‘N’ Smart, Arby, Skyman and Rudyard (5).

With 13.5 series points on offer to the victor of the New Zealand Stakes, 10.5 points to the runner-up, 7.5 points for third, and 4.5 points for fourth, Skyman is still in the hunt for the minor bonus prizemoney on offer.

“Legarto is going to win the bonus, but it is certainly a good carrot with the second and third bonus prizemoney,” Bosma said. “It will be interesting to see what the field looks like.”

Meanwhile, Go Racing are looking forward to the next outing of their Group One winner Atishu, who is on a path towards next month’s Gr.1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington.

The daughter of Savabeel was eighth first-up in the Gr.1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) behind fellow New Zealand-bred Mr Brightside, and Bosma expects to see the six-year-old mare take plenty of improvement from that run.

“Caulfield just didn’t suit her,” he said. “It is a bit of a tight-turning track, it is a lot different to Flemington. We always knew the 1400m was too short and she was going to get back from her draw and run on. We were just thinking if she could run into fifth or sixth, we would be happy. As the race panned out, she was a long way off them. Her last sectional was good. She certainly wasn’t completely wound up for that race and she has come through it well.

“Get her back onto a bigger track, I think you are going to see very quick improvement.

“The Australian Cup on 30th March is definitely her goal, but whether we run next week in Sydney or Melbourne, we are just working that out this week.”

Her performance in the Australian Cup will also help her syndicate decide on her future, with a distinct possibility of selling the valuable broodmare prospect at the end of this preparation.

“It will all depend on how she performs in her next few starts,” Bosma said. “Logic says, she is a six-year-old mare now, so selling her at the end of this preparation is the most likely thing.

“If she comes out and wins another Group One this preparation, we will have to have a good chat with the owners about whether they want to push on for another season or sell her. It is still up in the air, but it is probably more likely than not that she will be sold.”

Bosma purchased Atishu out of Waikato Stud’s 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale draft for $260,000 and he is pleased to have his yearling purchases from this year nearly fully subscribed.

“We have bought 12 yearlings to date, 10 at Karaka and two at Magic Millions, and just shy of 85 percent of them are sold,” he said.

“We brought over a guy we have worked a lot with in the UK called Stuart Boman, who does a lot of biometrics on the horses. We work with him in selecting the yearlings and it has been great. It is something new, but it is something that works and we think that we have bought horses that we have done more analysis on than ever before. We are pretty confident with the horses that we have bought.”

One of the yearlings who is fully sold is lot 43 from Karaka, the Ole Kirk half-brother to Pericles, who took out the Listed Uncle Remus Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie last Saturday.

“That was very timely Pericles winning the Uncle Remus, he has now won three of his last four,” Bosma said. “He is the first foal out of the mare (Empyrean), so the mare can’t have done any more than she has, and he looks like a very good horse. That Ole Kirk colt is completely sold out, which is not surprising. There were a couple of shares left, but after Pericles won, they all went. He is a lovely colt.”

Bosma is particularly excited about another of their Karaka purchases, lot 553, the Written Tycoon half-brother to Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) winner Rocket Spade. Bosma went to $250,000 to secure the colt out of Woburn Farm’s draft and he said shares are still available in the youngster.

“He has gone ahead in leaps and bounds in the couple of weeks since we have bought him,” Bosma said. “He has got a stallion’s pedigree and Written Tycoon is absolutely flying as a stallion, and he looks magnificent. He is a horse I have a huge amount of time for.”

Skyman Go Racing Albert Bosma Atishu Entain Summer Bonus Series