Quality galloper Avantage showed she is the horse to beat in the upcoming Hawke’s Bay triple crown when she produced a strong fresh-up effort to take out the Group 2 Valachi Downs Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa. The Fastnet Rock mare had closed out her four-year-old campaign with three Group 1 victories in the space of four starts and looked primed to resume her spring campaign with an eye-catching trial win at Taupo last month.
Trainer Jamie Richards was confident he had the horse to beat in a race that oozed class and so it proved as she was too tough for her rivals in the run home after enjoying a cosy run in transit for rider Danielle Johnson. Taranaki visitor Tavi Mac went the race of his life as he battled with Avantage over the closing stages but was a length in arrears at the post with another Te Akau runner in Prise De Fer holding on for third a nose to the good of the fast finishing Demonetization.
“It always mapped like she was going to get a good run from the barrier and so it played out,” trainer Jamie Richards said. “Danielle was able to sneak her up on the inside of Julius on the home corner and once she was clear she found a good kick. “In saying that, the second horse took some running down and she was probably on empty the last 50m, but she is a really good mare who is a real winner.”
Richards and the Te Akau team have their sights on the Hawke’s Bay triple crown for Avantage with the first leg, the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) on September 19 her next assignment. “The plan is to go to Hastings in a fortnight for the Tarzino,” he said. “She should take good benefit out of today’s run and the two weeks between races will be ideal.”
Earlier in the day a powerful display of front-running paved the way for exciting three-year-old Need I Say More to maintain his unbeaten career record as he dominated his age group rivals in the Group 3 WRC Northland Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) at Te Rapa. The Jamie Richards-trained galloper had scored twice from just the two starts as a two-year-old which included a victory over his highly-rated stablemate Cool Aza Beel in the Group 3 Waikato Stud Slipper (1200m) at his last start back in February.
First up on Saturday, Need I Say More was sent straight to the front by rider Craig Grylls to control the tempo of the race throughout and had his rivals struggling to make up ground on him as he shot clear rounding the home bend. Grylls rated his charge perfectly as he cruised clear from De La Terre, who chased gamely in the straight, with Autobahn and Taroni closing off strongly to finish third and fourth, respectively.
“It was a really good win by a promising sort of horse,” Richards said. “He’s a little bit hard to get a line on at home, but his work has improved and he’s obviously a horse that saves his best for race day. There’s no doubt about that.
“He’d had a good, strong build up. A couple of nice trials, done everything well, and kicked on with a good job today to remain unbeaten which is never easy to do. “There is further improvement to come. He’s not there in the coat just yet, so we’ll potter around with him now. “I don’t think we’ll rush, probably three or four weeks until we find another suitable race.”
Raced by the Te Akau Avantage syndicate, Avantage was a $210,000 purchase by David Ellis CNZM from the Oaks Stud 2017 Premier Yearling sale draft. She has now won eleven of her 18 starts and over $1.47m in prizemoney. Ellis also purchased Need I Say More for the Te Akau Never Say Die Syndicate, securing him for $130,000, from the draft of Kilgravin Lodge, at the 2019 Karaka Book 1 Sale.