Great season for racing partnership
‘‘When I joined Te Akau three years ago I had no idea where it would take me’’
A season of highlights for premiership-winning Te Akau partners Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards have capped a phenomenal season in partnership by claiming the 2015-16 national trainers’ premiership.
Their quest for the coveted title began last August, just three months after they had been appointed by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis to head the operation’s New Zealand base at Matamata.
For Stephen it meant a return to his former successful association with Te Akau in the 1990s, while 25-year- old Jamie was being promoted from stable racing manager to fully fledged trainer.
The mix proved to be inspirational as the pair began to compile the winners and they can look back with huge satisfaction at topping a century with 104 wins.
Obvious highlights were their four Group One wins - the New Zealand 1000 and 2000 Guineas with Risque and Xtravagant, the NRM Sprint also with Xtravagant, and the Diamond Stakes with Heroic Valour.
The Autridge-Richards premiership win is the first by a Matamata stable since John Sargent prepared 111 winners four years ago and sits neatly alongside the five premierships achieved by Mark Walker when he headed the Te Akau operation last decade before setting up a stable in Singapore.
The domestic title also completes a unique international double for Te Akau, Mark having claimed his first Singapore premiership in the 2015 calendar year season.
‘‘Group Ones are never easy, so to get four of them, top the century in overall wins and now be able to claim the premiership on top of Mark’s title - it could hardly be more satisfying than that,’’ said Stephen as he reflected on Te Akau’s season of achievements.
For Jamie it’s the stuff of dreams. ‘‘When I joined Te Akau three years ago I had no idea where it would take me,’’ he said.
‘‘But thanks to everyone in the organisation and all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, here we are.’’
Matamata’s other premiership winner from the just completed season is 20-year-old Shaun McKay, who claimed the apprentice jockeys’ title with 70 wins.
His last win for the season came at Awapuni last Thursday.
Dual Group One winner Xtravagant was the star act for Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards.