IN Racing
Team Te Akau set their sights on Adelaide riches
Te Akau Racing’s Mark Walker will have a five-strong arsenal from his team’s Cranbourne base that will contest most of the major events at Morphettville on Saturday.
Kevin Robertson, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | April 25, 2024
Qali Al Farrasha will contest the Gr.1 Australasian Oaks (2000m) at Morphettville on Saturday. Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

Te Akau Racing’s Mark Walker was busy packing on Thursday morning as he readied himself for a trip to Adelaide to link up with a five-strong arsenal from the team’s Cranbourne base that will contest most of the major events at Morphettville on Saturday.

The quintet is headed by Qali Al Farrasha in the day’s feature event, the Gr.1 Australasian Oaks (2000m) along with Skew Wiff in the other elite event, the Gr.1 Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m).

Also representing the stable on the day will be Group One winner Campionessa who will contest the Gr.2 Queen Of The South Stakes (1600m), Zourion in the Gr.2 Tobin Bronze Stakes (1200m) and Sans Doute shooting for five wins in a row in the Gr.3 John Hawkes Stakes (1100m).

Walker knows the strength and depth of the fields on the day will make winning a challenging prospect, but he is confident each runner will acquit themselves well.

“It is a great day of racing and the added prizemoney on offer has really added a lot of interest to the fields that have been assembled,” Walker said.

“Most of our horses will be having their last starts for the season and I am expecting them all to run well despite not having a lot of luck with our barrier draws in some races.”

Walker was referring to Qali Al Farrasha who has drawn the extreme outside in barrier 19 (reduced to 16 with scratchings) in the Oaks while Campionessa also fared poorly drawing barrier 12 of 18.

“Qali Al Farrasha is having her first run in Australia after finishing third in the New Zealand Oaks (Gr.1, 2400m) in March,” he said.

“She has travelled over well and has worked nicely but we certainly copped the visitors draw in this one.

“We are just going to have to take our medicine and go back at the start and see how things unfold from there.

“Mick (Michael) Dee has the ride so she will get every opportunity and it will be very interesting as to how the New Zealand fillies go in the race as both Pulchritudinous and Positivity are in the field and they are the two that beat us home at Trentham.

“The Kiwi three-year-olds generally measure up very well at this time of the year in Australia and we are hopeful that is how it plays out again.

“Skew Wiff has been mixing her form of late but in strong fields and she strikes another one on Saturday.

“Her last race wasn’t that bad as she was travelling well and the rider went to the outside for a run where if he had stayed put he would have got the gap on the inner. That is easy to say in hindsight but if she performs like we know she can, she will be a chance.

“She will have this race then head back home to Waikato Stud for a nice spell.”

Walker also found plenty of positives for his other three runners on the day.

“Sans Doute has been working extremely well and she is shooting for five in a row,” he said.

“This is a step up and a new challenge as her wins have come at Flemington, but she has the advantage of being just half a kilogram off the minimum for the race.

“She will then head to the spelling paddock and we are excited about her for next season.

“Campionessa has a lot of weight on her back (59.5kgs) but she has earned it as a Group One winner and she has enhanced her reputation over here with what she has done.

“She will head home for a break in New Zealand after Saturday as well.

“Zourion is likely to just have this start before we put her away for a spell.

“She chipped a fetlock in the Thousand Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m) back in November and got plenty of time off to recover.

“She goes well fresh and has had a couple of jumpouts to get ready, so we are hopeful.”

While Walker will be in Adelaide, he will also cast his eyes back to Te Rapa where Egyptian Queen will tackle the Gr.3 Inglis Sales Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (1200m).

“Egyptian Queen disappointed a little at Trentham last time but she had an excuse as she was found to be 2/5 lame in the right foreleg after the race,” Walker said.

“Wiremu Pinn is booked to take the ride and he has been having a good run on our horses lately.

“She has recovered and trained on well after Trentham so again we are hoping she can show her best in another good field that has been assembled for the race.”

Mark Walker Qali Al Farrasha Egyptian Queen Zourion Campionessa Sans Doute Skew Wiff