Talented former New Zealand three-year-old Texas Tea hinted at a bright future across the Tasman with a commanding victory in Saturday’s A$130,000 Sir Henry Bolte Handicap (2000m) at Flemington.
Making his first start since a midfield finish in last month’s Gr.1 South Australian Derby (2500m) at Morphettville, the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained gelding enjoyed a comfortable midfield run under expat New Zealand jockey Michael Dee.
Texas Tea cruised into a gap two off the rail at the top of the home straight, and when Dee released the brakes, the race was quickly put to bed with a powerful turn of foot. Texas Tea bounded clear to score by two and three-quarter lengths, with Rock Up making a late run into second to complete a New Zealand-bred quinella.
“We were able to draw a nice low barrier and I was lucky the tempo was strong throughout,” Dee said. “He was able to really relax, and from the half mile onwards we were able to build through our gears and gradually get there. He’s pretty much done it all on his own.
“He’s still had a nice healthy blow from that, so I’d say he’s going to improve again.”
Texas Tea was bred by Andrew Bryant and Dave Armstrong’s Andari Ltd, who raced him in five New Zealand starts from the Matamata stable of Daniel Miller and Mason Stevens – including a maiden win at Taupo in December and a second placing at Otaki in late February.
Subsequently sold and now racing in the black, orange and white colours of Bennett Racing, Texas Tea has recorded two wins, two placings and A$95,474 in stakes from eight career starts.
“We were quietly confident with him today actually, he’d been training really well,” Eustace said. “The team have done a terrific job with him. Billy McCarthy rides him every day, and he’s a horse that takes a bit of managing.
“He got into a lovely rhythm, his race manners were much better again, and I think he’s got a bright future.
“He was originally bought for the South Australian Derby. He probably was a bit out of his grade at that stage, but the run wasn’t that bad, and we just thought dropping back to 2000 metres would be better. He travelled nice and strong today and quickened up well.”
Texas Tea is by Mapperley Stud stallion Puccini, whose oldest progeny are three-year-olds. He is the sire of six winners from 19 runners, headed by Gr.1 Queensland Oaks (2200m) placegetter Le Villi and Listed performer Wolfgang.
The dam of Texas Tea is the Lucky Unicorn mare Morning Oil, a half-sister to the Andari-bred Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) winner Midnight Oil.
Saturday’s second placegetter Rock Up, meanwhile, is a son of Roc De Cambes and the Show A Heart mare Show Up. Bred and raced by The Oaks Stud’s Dick Karreman, the Patrick Payne-trained gelding has had seven starts for a win and four placings.