Markus Aurelius conquers Riccarton mile as Te Akau duo shine

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Markus Aurelius

Fresh from landing the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton last Saturday with glamour colt Noverre, the Te Akau team were again to the fore on the middle day of the New Zealand Cup Meeting.

The Jamie Richards-trained pair of Markus Aurelius and Summer Monsoon landed a stakes double at the Christchurch course, as the powerful Matamata stable flexed its muscle, with both ridden by retained rider Opie Bosson.

Hardy five-year-old Markus Aurelius was sent out a solid +310 second favourite in the Group 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) and Bosson took luck out of the equation, pressing forward from the outside barrier in the 13-strong handicap.

Horses positioned 1-2-3 in running filled the first three placings as Markus Aurelius prevailed from outsider Seriously, with Colarado Star in third.

“He just travelled beautifully for me throughout the race, we actually got a little bit of cover in behind the leader, which is what we were looking for,” Bosson said.

“I thought I was a sitting duck and I was a bit worried when the other ones came up beside me, but I just brought him out a little bit so he could see them and to his credit he just kept digging.”

The White Robe Lodge-bred son of Ghibellines was purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis for just NZD$13,000 at the New Zealand Bloodstock South Island Sale from the prominent southern nursery.

In advancing his career record to seven wins from 16 starts, the gelding has now earned NZD$246,771 in prizemoney, with Richards’ Assistant Trainer Sam Bergerson indicating the horse was likely to have a break after a fruitful four-start campaign in the South Island.

“The plan was to go forward and slot in and when he got stuck wide, he had no choice but to go forward and that was probably the winning of the race,” Bergerson said.

“He has been consistent all season long and run some brilliant races down here and it is great to see him get the result.”

Earlier on the card Summer Monsoon again showed his affinity for South Island tracks when he steamed home to land the most prestigious win of his career.

The hard-knocking sprinter produced an irresistible finish from well back in the field to claim the Group 3 Lindauer Stewards’ Handicap (1200m) as the Richards-Bosson juggernaut rolled on.

The seven-year-old Summer Monsoon has now won eight of his 35 starts with six of his victories posted on southern courses – two at Riccarton, an Ashburton brace and one apiece at Motukarara and at Cromwell.

He had opened his Stewards’ campaign in September at Riccarton, where he flew home to finish a close second and, off a subsequent trial outing, went one better in the Ashburton Cup.

“Jamie said it last time, he’s just getting better with age and he just seems to thrive down here,” Bergerson said.

Bosson allowed Summer Monsoon plenty of time to get into his rhythm and the son of Stratum only had one runner behind him as the field thundered toward the bend.

“It was a great effort and the key to him is to let him find his feet. If you pressure him to take a handy spot, he doesn’t really finish off his races so the speed today really helped,” added Bergerson, son of Group One-winning trainer Roydon.

Summer Monsoon came wide at the top of the straight and let down in style to clock 1.08.61s for the 1200 metres.

The Lance Robinson-trained mare Live Drama again had to settle for second best following her runner-up finish behind the speed machine Babylon Berlin in the Listed Pegasus Stakes (1000m) on the opening day of the meeting.

Satu Lagi, bred and raced by his trainer Patrick Campbell, finished third after an interrupted run while Team Pitman’s Okay Pal suffered a similar fate before he got home well for fourth.

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