Te Akau team pass first Brisbane test
Sunday, 14 May 2017: The Matamata conditioner, who prepares the Te Akau Racing team in partnership with Stephen Autridge, had plenty to smile about as he reflected on the team’s performance at Doomben a day earlier.
Promising three-year-old stayer Shocking Luck thrust his name into Queensland Derby contention with a comprehensive winning performance in the Gr. 3 Rough Habit Plate (2000m) while stayer Zambezi Warrior stamped himself as a Brisbane Cup contender with a stout late finish for fourth in the Gr. 3 Chairman’s Handicap (2000m).
Only Group One winning three-year-old Hall Of Fame gave Richards cause for pause with an indifferent performance in finishing fifth in a Listed 1350 metre contest, a race that Richards felt was well within the colt’s capabilities.
“I don’t think you can use the wet track as an excuse for Hall Of Fame as he has won in that type of ground before,” he noted.
“There is something not quite right there as he travels up beautifully but just isn’t finishing things off like we know he can.
“The vet will run the rule over him on Monday and hopefully that will give us a clue to what the issue is.”
Richards was bullish about the prospects of the now Hong Kong owned Shocking Luck as he builds into the next feature event for the three-year-olds during the Brisbane carnival, the Gr. 3 Grand Prix Stakes on 27 May.
“Shocking Luck ate up nicely last night and trotted up beautifully this morning so he’s come through the race superbly,” he said.
“It was a top performance as he was a little wide early on but really put them away in the straight and was very dominant at the finish.
“His main aim is the Queensland Derby and he will have his final lead-up in the Grand Prix Stakes in a fortnight.
“David (Ellis) put a deal together for his new Hong Kong owner Phillip Mak after the horse ran second in the Waikato Guineas so to get the win for him is very satisfying. We’re hopeful he can get down to see him go around in the Derby before the horse heads up to Hong Kong for his future racing.”
Richards was also delighted with the run of Zambezi Warrior who had his race turned upside down when checked at the start.
“The plan was to ride him handy as there seemed to be a bias towards the front runners but that went out the window when he copped a check at the start,” he explained.
“He got another bump approaching the home turn so he put in a super effort to run home strongly for fourth.”
Richards will now turn his attention to some of the other members of the Te Akau team who are on hand in Brisbane with exciting sprinter Splurge set to gallop at the Gold Coast on Tuesday as he prepares for his first assignment in the Gr. 3 BRC Sprint this coming weekend.
“Splurge has settled in well and we will gallop him on the grass at the Gold Coast on Tuesday,” he advised.
“He will run in the BRC Sprint and then hopefully the Stradbroke after that.
“Melody Belle has pulled up well after her trial the other day although she has taken the longest to settle in here. Her aim is the Sires Produce Stakes at Eagle Farm on the 27th and then the Group One JJ Atkins on the 10th of June.”