Embellish-ing his reputation
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.