Another Pinot toast for team
Te Akau attack black-type this weekend at Pukekohe Park
The Te Akau Racing Stables team will on Saturday take another step toward assembling its squad for the Karaka Million (1200m).
Trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards will be looking to Pinot Grey, an impressive debut winner at Otaki earlier this month, to cement her place in the line-up for the $1 million juvenile feature at Ellerslie on January 27.
Pinot Grey has $6250 in the kitty as a result of her win and a further victory (or even a second) in the $50,000 Listed Ashford Lodge 2YO Stakes (1100m) this weekend at Pukekohe Park will be enough to guarantee her spot in the Karaka Million.
Pinot Grey is part of a three-horse attack on the black-type races at Pukekohe on Saturday by Autridge and Richards. Stablemates Zambezi Warrior and Heroic Valour will contest the Gr.3 Ssangyong Counties Cup (2100m) and Listed Haunui Farm Counties Bowl (1100m) respectively.
Zambezi Warrior will be ridden for the first time by Danielle Johnson, who made a special trip to partner the stayer in trackwork this week.
"He worked up good for Danielle and he’s a good lightweight chance, but he would appreciate some sting out of the ground,” Autridge said. "He’s coming up well.”
Zambezi Warrior was runner-up in the Gr.2 Valachi Downs Championship Stakes (2100m) at Ellerslie as a three-year-old and sixth in this year’s Gr.3 Wallaceville Estate Wellington Cup (3200m). He has had a couple of runs this campaign and was unlucky not to finish closer than fifth behind Ocean Emperor at Awapuni over 1550m last start after being held up in the home straight.
Heroic Valour will be going into Saturday’s Counties Bowl with one lead-up run, a creditable fifth to Untamed Diamond in the Listed Legacy Lodge Sprint (1200m) at Te Rapa earlier this month.
"Actually I did think he would go better at Te Rapa, but it was his first run back and he’s a bull (entire) so he probably needed it,” Autridge said. "His work on Tuesday was outstanding and he’ll have blinkers on.
"We’re planning to ride him a little quieter. He appreciates it more when he’s chasing.”
Heroic Valour was unbeaten in three juvenile starts, highlighted by his win in the Gr.1 Sistema Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie, and his last win came fresh-up as a three-year-old in the Listed Tavistock Northland Breeders Stakes (1200m) at Ruakaka.
Despite failing to get his head in front, he was a model of consistency last season with six placings, including a third in the Gr.1 Sothys NZ 2000 Guineas (1600m) and a fourth in the Gr.1 NRM Sprint (1400m). He was also runner-up in the Gr.3 Gold Coast Guineas (1200m). - NZ Racing Desk