Matamata colts at war at Trentham
‘‘When I won that race Opie was a year old, so that gives you some idea of how long ago it was.’’
Last Saturday’s $225,000 Levin Classic was touted as a matchrace between Hall Of Fame and Savile Row, and so it proved as the classy Matamata colts fought out a thrilling finish in the Trentham feature.
At the end of the three-year- old mile a mere nose separated the pair, with Cambridge colt Jon Snow right in line in third place.
The honours belonged to Hall Of Fame, yet another big winner for champion stallion Savabeel and a further feather in the cap of the Te Akau partnership of principal David Ellis, trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards and recently reappointed stable jockey Opie Bosson.
Hall Of Fame had been well fancied in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas back in November, and it remains a mystery as to why he failed so dismally in the Riccarton classic.
A short break obviously did the trick and he’s got his career right back with wins in his two starts since.
Hall Of Fame, $230,000 Karaka Ready to Run Sale purchase, is likely to have his next start in the Waikato Guineas at Te Rapa early next month.
His performance in that 2000-metre race will be the decider on a start in the $1 million New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie a month later.
‘‘It’s always to get those wins in the big races,’’ said Stephen Autridge, whose latest Group One training win sits nicely alongside one of his biggest as a jockey, on ill-fated champion colt Altitude in the inaugural Levin Classic in 1981.
‘‘When I won that race Opie was a year old, so that gives you some idea of how long ago it was!’’ he said in reference to the ace jockey who is also his godson.
The Te Akau team will return to Trentham this weekend seeking further big race honours. Last season’s glamour colt Xtravagant will head the action as the favourite for the $250,000 Gr. 1 Telegraph, having done everything asked of him since returning from a fruitless Melbourne spring campaign.
He won’t get it easy in the big sprint, with his rivals including the first two home in the Railway at Ellerslie, Wanganui-trained Start Wondering and another from Matamata, Ken and Bev Kelso’s classy mare Perfect Fit.
The Autridge-Richards partnership will also have two runners in the $250,000 Wellington Cup, Echezeaux and Zambezi Warrior. Once again, however, they won’t be short of opposition, with Matamata also represented by last year’s winner Mister Impatience and Peter McKay’s impressive Dunstan Stayers’ Championship winner Clarify.
A repeat win for Mister Impatience would be fitting compensation for Ballymore Stables partners Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard, who went so close with Savile Row in the Levin Classic.
The Kevin Hickman-bred and owned colt could be rated unlucky not to have taken the major honours on Saturday after he and third placegetter engaged in a bumping duel over the final 150 metres.
Having also finished second in the New Zealand 2000 Guineas, Savile Row certainly deserves a big win and there’s no reason he can’t get his dues as the threeyear-old feature schedule unfolds.
Hall Of Fame (2, Opie Bosson) scores a narrow win over fellow Matamata colt Savile Row in the Levin Classic. Stephen Autridge