Te Teko has come to be a great starting point for many of Te Akau’s top two-year-olds and trainer Jamie Richards is hoping this year is no different. “It’s always an important date on the calendar for our team,” Richards said. “We have been fortunate this year with the use of the Te Rapa inside trials track, which has allowed for us to get a trial in to some of the horses during July rather than having to wait until Te Teko. “But it’s always an important date for us to kick-off the two-year-olds especially.”
Te Akau dominated the two-year-old heats at the Bay of Plenty track on Tuesday, taking out all three 630m heats. Richards was pleased with what he saw and he is excited with the prospects of many of the stable’s juveniles at the dawn of the new season. “We have got some lovely two-year-olds around us,” Richards said. “David (Ellis, Te Akau principal) was as strong as he has ever been at the yearling sales and hopefully that is going to stand us in good stead for the upcoming season. “We have got some lovely horses that David bought and some lovely horses to train for outside clients, which is really exciting as well.”
One of those outside clients is Chris Rutten who has a successful association with Richards through last season’s dual Group 1-winning juvenile Yourdeel. Rutten purchased a Bullpoint colt for $100,000 out of Brighthill Farm’s New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale draft earlier this year and Richards thinks he might have another promising juvenile on his hands going by his heat win on Tuesday.
“Chris has got a knack of picking them out at the sale,” Richards said. “It is a real privilege to have a horse in the stable for him, especially after we have had to say goodbye to Yourdeel, so hopefully this horse can fill the void. “I thought he trialled well. He’s a bit of an immature horse, he lacks concentration, but I think once he puts it all together he could hopefully turn into a Karaka Million horse. “We will give him a little bit of time, probably a couple of weeks, to freshen-up now. He is going to be a nice two-year-old for later in the season.”
Richards was also pleased with the performance of More Than Ready colt Ready For This, who ran home well to deadheat his trial. “I was really happy with him,” Richards said. “Usually at Te Teko over 600m when they jump and rail they are very hard to run down and I thought he did a really good job from back in the field to make good steady ground. “When he got on the right leg halfway down he really attacked the line strongly. He’s a beautiful horse, he looks like a readymade two-year-old – a small to medium size with plenty of strength. “We will just see how he comes through, but he might have a couple of weeks to freshen a little bit as well and then get ready for later in the season.”
Te Akau’s other two-year-old trial winner, Cool Aza Beel, won his heat by two lengths and he reminds Richards of a quality juvenile from last season. “He’s a Savabeel colt from a very fast Australian family that Dave bought off Fairdale. He’s a nice horse,” Richards said. “The way that he trialled there today, he really followed the rail and quickened in well. He looks like a nice prospect, he reminds me a lot of Aotea Lad, so hopefully he can live up to something like what he did as a two-year-old.”
Aotea Lad won the Group 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m) on debut at Trentham last season before finishing runner-up in three consecutive stakes races. The three-year-old son of Savabeel also kicked off his season at Te Teko on Tuesday. “He had a nice, quiet trial today,” Richards said. “He wasn’t out there to do too much. “I am happy with how he is coming to hand. He is going to get a bit more serious in a couple of weeks at Te Rapa and all going well he will kick-off at Ruakaka in that three-year-old 1200m (Northland Breeders’ Stakes, Group 3) up there.”
Another Te Akau three-year-old that Richards thought was impressive in her trial was Rhapsody In Blue. “I like the way she found the line,” he said. “She has had one start for a second as a two- year-old. “She came from well off them and made nice, steady ground without really being asked to do too much. “She is a filly who is going to appreciate a little give in the track in the spring and hopefully we can work her through to some of those better races.”