The new season for the superstars of Te Akau’s racing army starts at Cambridge tomorrow before the old season has even finished.
Trainer Jame Richards will unleash one of the strongest trials teams ever from a New Zealand stable with 37 runners at the meeting to be held on the synthetic track.
Richards and Te Akau will line up New Zealand’s best thoroughbred Probabeel, Avantage, Amarelinha, Entriviere, Sword Of State and 1000 Guineas winner Kahma Lass as well as a host of race-winning juveniles in a remarkable show of equine strength for a winter’s day.
The Matamata powerhouse stable will be giving most of their stars their first public outing of their new campaigns, with another trial in two weeks before plans for first race starts of the new season firm up, some here and some in Australia.
“Many of them, including those top mares, are going there for a day out and an easy enough canter around over 800m,” says Richards.
That will see Avantage, Entriviere, Kahma Lass and Amarelinha compete in one heat just before 3pm and Epsom winner Probabeel in the heat straight after with champion jockeys Opie Bosson and Danielle Johnson both riding today to help assess the fitness of the superstars.
Te Akau trialling horses for their next campaigns at the back end of the winter season is not new but Richards admits he loves the fact they can do so on the synthetic track, with the option to go to a potentially decent turf surface Taupo in two weeks or back to the synthetic again.
“We can give them two trials and then start making some decisions on race starts but some of them at least will start racing late August, whether that be in the Foxbridge here or in Australia.”
Richards says Probabeel would be unlikely to race in New Zealand, which she didn’t this season, and the initial discussions around her spring focus on Melbourne more so than Sydney.
“These things can change and you need to be flexible but I think she will be in Melbourne for the carnival,” says Richards.
“Obviously things are tricky in Australia at the moment and we are hoping things there improve soon for everybody and, less importantly obviously, for us to be able to travel horses and people over there.
“So that is something we like everybody else is going to need to monitor.”The indication Probabeel could head to Melbourne should be noted by futures punters studying the market for the new A$2million race The Invitation, for fillies and mares over 1400m at Randwick on October 27.
The race conditions are set weights and penalties which means early favourites Probabeel, Tofane and Avantage would be asked to carry at least 2.5kgs, possibly 3kgs, more than mares of the same age who have yet to win at group one level, which was confirmed to the Herald by Racing New South Wales officials today.
“We were excited to see the new race and having a lot of high class mares we will definitely target it but my early feeling is it looks an ideal race for Entriviere if she comes up as well as we would hope,” says Richards.
“She isn’t a group one or even two winner yet and 1400m could be ideal for her.”
Entriviere was $15 with some Australian bookmakers yesterday but was already backed into $11 with the New Zealand TAB for The Invitation, which will be restricted to 12 starters.
Whether Avantage heads to Australia or remains in New Zealand for the Hawkes Bay Triple Crown is just one of a myriad of questions Richards and Te Akau boss David Ellis will have to mull over with different sets of connections in coming weeks.
One horse they will want to get to Australia at some stage is this season’s leading juvenile Sword Of State, who trials over 800m at 1.30pm tomorrow.
Already a group one winner here, the son of Snitzel has stallion ambitions and an Australian group one victory would be worth millions to his value, albeit winning three-year-old group one sprinting races in Australia is one of the most sought-after prizes in world racing these days.