In a battle that most pundits expected, speedy two-year-old Avonallo turned the tables on rival Follow Your Dreams to take out Saturday’s Listed Frantic Bloodstock Welcome Stakes (1000m) at Riccarton. The pair had met on two occasions previously over 800m where Follow Your Dreams had the edge on Avonallo, however a rise in distance to 1000m and the addition of top rider Opie Bosson aboard the Jamie-Richards-trained Belardo colt turned the tables in his favour.
Bosson had Avonallo away nicely from a handy barrier, where he sat outside Follow Your Dreams to set up a steady pace throughout. Bosson asked his mount to extend shortly after straightening and after a brief tussle gained the upper hand over Follow Your Dreams before extending to a comfortable two-length winning margin.
Richards had been pleased with the progress the colt had made since having his first start back in early October and was expecting the rise in distance to favour him. “I’ve been really happy with him as he has kept improving,” he said. “When a baby like him keeps putting on weight well into their preparation, it’s always a good sign. “He’s never left any feed the whole way through and it has all come together at the right time.”
A $30,000 purchase from the Little Avondale Stud draft at the Book 2 session of the 2020 National Yearling Sale at Karaka by co-owner Chris Rutten, Avonallo has now qualified for the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie in January, with Richards keen to give him a short break before setting him for the race.
“He will go home now and have a ten days in the paddock,” Richards said. “We’ll probably run him a fortnight out from the Karaka Million and then he can go into the race from there. “He’s a very athletic horse who has a lot of scope and there is more improvement to come.”
Rutten was on hand to witness the victory and was impressed with what he saw. “We thought that more ground would help him but you just never know on the day,” he said. “Opie and Jamie have both done a great job so credit to them. This is great fun and we know our way (to Ellerslie) for Karaka Million night, so we’ll be there.” Rutten has already tasted success in New Zealand’s richest race for two-year-olds having purchased and co-owned 2014 winner Vespa.
The race also provided a winning treble for Richards having taken out consecutive races with Remington and Summer Monsoon, respectively. The win was also a triumph for Haunui Farm shuttle stallion Belardo, with Avonallo becoming both his first winner and first at stakes level in the southern hemisphere.
The son of Lope De Vega commenced stud duties at Haunui Farm in 2017 and has enjoyed considerable success in the northern hemisphere producing 12 individual winners with four of those at stakes level from his first two-year-old crop. Belardo will be represented by six two-year-olds at the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run sale which commences at Karaka on Wednesday.