Te Akau Racing once again showcased their dominance in South Island racing, with their distinctive tangerine and blue colors setting the stage for a day of promising performances at Riccarton.
The spotlight was firmly on Viva Vienna, a three-year-old filly with aspirations for the Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m). She kicked off her campaign in impressive fashion, triumphing over her rivals in a 1000m contest. Jockey Sam Weatherley, drawing on his expertise, skillfully guided her from barrier three.
It led to a thrilling showdown with Illicit Dreams, a fellow northern contender, in a head-to-head battle. Viva Vienna displayed unyielding determination, securing victory by a narrow margin. Meanwhile, stablemate Rhetorical secured third place.
In the subsequent race, the four-year-old sensation, Insatiable, under the skilled riding of Opie Bosson, surged to victory in a 1000m event. Insatiable had previously piqued interest with a fourth-place finish in a competitive 900m trial at Te Rapa, where he faced the high-quality mare Skew Wiff. This performance set the stage for his impressive campaign opener.
Co-trainers Sam Bergerson and Mark Walker were delighted with their early-season form as they charted a course towards the New Zealand Cup Carnival in November. Bergerson praised Viva Vienna's resolute spirit and outlined her next target, the Canterbury Belle (Listed 1200m), with hopes of a successful challenge at the 1000 Guineas.
Turning to Insatiable, Bergerson acknowledged the horse's earlier inconsistencies but attributed his resurgence to maturation. The Stewards (Group 3, 1200m) during the Cup Carnival could now be a realistic goal after this commanding performance.
Both winners share a pedigree with All Too Hard, the former Australian champion three-year-old who enjoyed a glittering Group 1 career before retirement.
Viva Vienna, secured by Te Akau Racing's David Ellis for $100,000 at the 2022 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale from Westbury Stud's Book 1 draft, now boasts three wins from six career starts.
Meanwhile, Insatiable, acquired by Ellis for $190,000 from the Windsor Park Book 1 draft at Karaka in 2021, carries the bloodlines of Translate, a valuable Australian mare with a Group Three victory and a runner-up finish in the 2012 Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington.
The winning streak didn't halt at two for the dynamic trainer duo of Walker and Bergerson. They promptly added a third triumph with Challa, a sprinter who led from start to finish in an open 1000m contest, guided by Opie Bosson. Additionally, the promising mare It's Business Time secured their fourth consecutive victory, coasting to the finish line with a four-length lead in a rating 75 1200m race.
Bergerson spoke highly of Challa's enduring racing spirit, highlighting his love for competition. As for It's Business Time, despite initial doubts about her suitability for the 1200m distance, she now has her sights set on the Coupland's Bakeries Mile (Group 3, 1600m) if she secures the right weight allocation.
Te Akau Racing's supremacy extended beyond Riccarton, as Bellatrix Star claimed victory in the first two-year-old event of the season, an 800m race at Wanganui, with jockey Michael McNab expertly guiding her to the finish line.