Em­bel­lish-ing his rep­u­ta­tion

Sunday News - - RACING - MAT KERMEEN

TE Akau prin­ci­pal David El­lis knows bet­ter than most that you have to spend money to make it.

He has never been afraid to think big, back his judge­ment and out­bid any­one who takes on his fa­mous wink at the Karaka year­ling sales.

In 2016, at the Karaka Premier Year­ling Sale, his at­ti­tude was no dif­fer­ent when he set out to buy a strik­ing Sav­abeel colt out of O’Reilly mare Bling from the Waikato Stud draft.

Fast for­ward 22 months and El­lis is be­gin­ning to feel a lot more re­laxed about his $775,000 in­vest­ment.

On Satur­day at Ric­car­ton, that year­ling be­came the 45th win­ner of the Group I 2000 Guineas (1600m).

Em­bel­lish, the race favourite who is trained by the part­ner­ship of Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards, beat home sta­ble­mate Age Of Fire by one and a quar­ter lengths with the Tony Pike- trained Ever Loyal a fur­ther three-quar­ters of a length back in third.

The third Te Akau run­ner in the $500,000 race, Te Akau Shark, was fourth.

El­lis, who was awarded the pres­ti­gious New Zealand Thor­ough­bred Rac­ing Con­tri­bu­tion To Rac­ing Award at the an­nual awards night back in Septem­ber, spends the big bucks at the sales with a view to suc­cess­ful rac­ing and then stal­lion ca­reers.

Em­bel­lish, who is raced by the Te Akau 2016 Breed­ing Syn­di­cate, was no dif­fer­ent. He was pur­chased to tar­get the 2000 Guineas and go on to make it at stud.

‘‘We’ve had his pro­gramme set month by month and its gone to plan the whole way through,’’ El­lis said.

Richards, in just the third sea­son of his young train­ing ca­reer, has al­ready seen the process evolve.

Xtrav­a­gant won the 2015 edi­tion of the 2000 Guineas by eight-and-a-half lengths and when his rac­ing ca­reer ended prema- turely he was sold to Aus­tralian stud Ne­whaven Park.

‘‘This is a stal­lion-mak­ing race and this bloke (Em­bel­lish) has got a very bright fu­ture,’’ Richards said.

Em­bel­lish has con­tin­ued an un­ri­valled 2000 Guineas strik­er­ate for Te Akau.

His vic­tory was their sixth in the race, fol­low­ing on from Xtrav­a­gant (2015), Rock ‘n’ Pop (2011), Tell A Tale (2008), Darci Brahma (2005) and King’s Chapel (2003).

‘‘It’s quite amaz­ing be­cause we have a lot of own­ers who spend a for­tune in our op­er­a­tion and to STACY SQUIRES/STUFF win these sort of races for them is just ter­rific,’’ El­lis said. ‘‘It’s a big thrill.’’ El­lis de­scribed the 2000 Guineas as one of New Zealand’s most iconic races.

‘‘To have three run­ners in the race was a big thrill but to see them run like they did was an amaz­ing re­sult.’’

El­lis paid credit to his staff, some of which had been based at Ric­car­ton for close to three months.

‘‘I’m just so proud of the whole team,’’ he said.

Em­bel­lish’s jockey Opie Bos­son, who has now won the 2000 Guineas seven times, gave him the per­fect trip in the trail.

Richards praised the ride of Bos­son but also the judge­ment of El­lis who pur­chased Em­bel­lish, Age Of Fire and Te Akau Shark.

Fol­low­ing the Guineas, Bos­son was stood down from his re­main­ing rides with a right thumb in­jury suf­fered in an ear­lier race.

Bos­son told ste­wards he was hope­ful of rid­ing at Te Aroha on Tues­day. RIC­CAR­TON trainer Michael Pit­man be­lieves pre­mier­ship­win­ning jockey Chris John­son could be in the best form of his ca­reer.

On Satur­day’s re­sults at Ric­car­ton, it is hard to ar­gue.

De­spite be­ing away from the races for just un­der a month due to sus­pen­sion, John­son turned on a rid­ing master­class to ride four win­ners, a sec­ond and a fifth from just eight rides.

‘‘The Chris John­son of 2017 is the same ver­sion of what he was in 1997,’’ Pit­man said.

The Pit­man and John­son as­so­ci­a­tion stretches back more than four decades and on Satur­day they com­bined for three win­ners.

Pit­man, plus his train­ing part­ner and son Mat, will com­bine with John­son again on Wed­nes­day when they line up Coupland’s Bak­eries Mile favourite Son Of Ma­her in the Group II fea­ture.

Michael Pit­man praised the com­mit­ment and fo­cus that John­son was show­ing in a sea­son where he will be a strong chance to de­fend last sea­son’s na­tional jock­eys’ pre­mier­ship crown.

‘‘Chris is as light as he’s ever been be­cause he knows he has to ride Son Of Ma­her at 52 (kg) on Wed­nes­day. I know he’s been keep­ing fit and ac­tive to do that.’’

Enzo’s Lad’s fea­ture win in the $50,000 Listed Yes­berg In­sur­ance Ser­vices Pe­ga­sus Stakes (1000m) was his third win on the trot.

The trio of rides were all stamped with the pa­tient John­son touch of class that is so of­ten on dis­play at Ric­car­ton.

The first came aboard the ul­tra im­pres­sive Savvy Coup for the Pit­man part­ner­ship and the sec­ond with the John and Karen Par­sons-trained Star­voia.

In her first start at four, the daugh­ter of Star­craft gave an in­di­ca­tion of just how good she can be fol­low­ing an in­jury­plagued three-year-old sea­son.

John­son then fin­ished off the day in per­fect fash­ion with his fourth vic­tory aboard the Brian Court-trained Di­rec­tor.

‘‘I did have some nice horses to ride which ob­vi­ously helps but it’s still sat­is­fy­ing to get the job done,’’ John­son said.

Be­ing sus­pended is never ideal but John­son said it did have a sil­ver lining.

‘‘Just the break from all the travel, it re­ally gives you a freshen-up,’’ John­son said.

The other fea­ture race, the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Tro­phy Hand­i­cap (2500m), was taken out by the Terri Rae trained Aspen Lass.

‘ This is a stal­lion­mak­ing race and this bloke (Em­bel­lish) has got a very bright fu­ture’ JAMIE RICHARDS

Em­bel­lish and Opie Bos­son take out the 2000 Guineas.

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