Ellerslie tune-up for Te Akau stars

It was another busy day at the trials for Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards as he oversees the preparation of his spring stars.

Entriviere winning her 900m trial at Ellerslie on Tuesday.
Entriviere winning her 900m trial at Ellerslie on Tuesday. Picture: Trish Dunell

The Matamata horseman took a handful of his top runners to Ellerslie on Tuesday and he was pleased with what he saw from his team on the heavy surface.

Multiple Group One winner Probabeel wasn't suited by the heavy conditions and Richards said she had to be urged on by jockey Opie Bosson in her 900m trial.

"She usually doesn't like that sort of ground and Opie had to kick her along a bit to make her finish off, but that is her as well," Richards said.

The Brendan and Jo Lindsay-owned mare will now head to Melbourne where she will likely have her first hit-out in the Gr.1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) later this month.

"She is in good shape and will probably go straight to Melbourne," Richards said.

"She will run there at the end of the month, I am not exactly sure what race that will be in yet, it could be the Memsie, or there is another race on the same card (Gr.3 Cockram Stakes, 1200m).

"But as long as we are happy with her and we think she can go 1400m first-up then we will probably lean towards the Memsie."

Entriviere  comfortably won her 900m trial over stablemate Amarelinha and is earmarked for a return trip to Sydney where she finished runner-up in the Gr.2 Sapphire Stakes (1200m) at Randwick in April.

"She is coming up well," Richards said. "She will go straight to Sydney where she will either run in the Toy Show (Gr.3, 1100m) or the Show County (Gr.3, 1200m) on the 21st (August) and then we will follow the fillies and mares sprinting agenda there through to races like the Sheraco (Gr.2, 1200m) and the Golden Pendant (Gr.2, 1400m), and possibly the new race, The Invitation (A$2 million, 1400m).

"We will aim for the stars with her, but she seems to be coming up well."

Australia could also be on the cards for Group One winner Amarelinha, but Richards said it is a big step-up for mares from their Classic season to open company.

"It is a tricky time for those four-year-old mares coming out of their own age group as three-year-olds," he said.

"We are not 100 percent sure where we go with her yet, but she is well and wherever she goes she will run well.

"We will try and stay away from weight-for-age at this stage if we can and make the use of her rating."

Richards is still working out what the daughter of Savabeel's best distance is and although she won the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at three, he is not convinced that distance will be applicable as an older mare. 

"My gut feeling is she got a mile and a half against her own age group and it will be interesting to see where she sits this year. She could be a mile to 2000m horse. She was terrific in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) here, she was awesome in the Eight Carat (Gr,2, 1600m), great at Te Rapa in the Fillies Classic (Gr.2, 2000m), so those mile to 2000m races could suit her and we will be a little bit flexible with her."

A trip across the Tasman could also be in the offing for nine-time Group One winner Avantage, however, Richards said she will need to prove herself at home first.

The daughter of Fastnet Rock placed in her 900m trial at Ellerslie on Tuesday in a blanket finish and she is set to follow a traditional early spring preparation in New Zealand before a decision is made about an Australia campaign.

"Avantage was good, she doesn't really like the heavy ground, but she is a good doing mare who needs a couple of good hit-outs," Richards said.

"She will go straight to Te Rapa now for the Foxbridge (Gr.2, 1200m) and then to Hastings for the first couple of legs (Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy, 1400m and Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate, 1600m) and then we will make some plans from there.

"We would like to give her the opportunity to get over there (Australia) and perform. We will be guided by how those couple of runs go."

With travel restrictions still in place between Australia and New Zealand, Richards said campaigning their horses across the Tasman remains a headache, but something they have been used to over the last 18 months.

Te Akau have been lucky enough to have the services of travelling forepeople Ashley Handley, Craig Thornton, and Richards' father Paul Richards, who will be the first Te Akau man on the ground in Australia this spring.

"It makes it a little bit easier when they are family and you have just got to work together," Richards said.

"At this stage it is looking like Dad is going to take one for the team and take Entriviere over to Sydney and could well be joined by Sword of State at some stage.

"It is a bit of a difficult time, but we have just got to do our best."
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