Karaka Million Countdown Ignites
29 September 2021
With the new racing season well underway, New Zealand Bloodstock is pleased to provide a snapshot of early talent set to compete for their share in the two $1 million feature races held during NZB’s Karaka Million Twilight meeting at Ellerslie Racecourse on 22 January next year.
Hosted on the eve of NZB’s 2022 National Yearling Sales Series, the renewal of the 2022 Karaka Million Series is once again strongly supported by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) and Auckland Thoroughbred Racing Incorporated.
DoubleTree by Hilton Karaka Million 2YO
Matamata hosted the upper North Island’s first two-year-old race of the 2021-22 season on Saturday, and the impressive first and second placegetters have taken the top two positions on the order of entry for the $1m DoubleTree by Hilton Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie on 22 January.
The $15,000 Transport Mechanical Waharoa Limited 1000 was won by Wessex (NZ) (Turn Me Loose), who was slow to leave the starting gates but then finished strongly to wear down Pacific Dragon (NZ) (Charm Spirit) and kick off her career on a winning note by three-quarters of a length.
Wessex was bred by Windsor Park Stud and is out of their two-time Group One Telegraph (1200m) placegetter Trepidation (NZ) (Falkirk). The filly was a $150,000 purchase from Windsor Park Stud’s draft in Book 1 of Karaka 2021.
Trained by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman for owner Ben Kwok, Wessex has taken an early lead on the Karaka Million order of entry with $8,400 in stakes.
“We’ve liked her since she first came into work, and she was good winning her first trial,” Forsman told NZ Racing Desk.
“Ben had asked me to buy a couple of fillies for him at the sale and this was one I really liked. She is by Turn Me Loose (NZ), who I have a lot of time for as a sire, and she is a lovely athletic type with plenty of scope to her.
“She is still very immature physically, so we will most likely put her away and let her get over this one before we think about what to do with her next.”
The Tony Pike-trained Pacific Dragon earned $2,700 for her second placing on debut. A close relative to Group One winner Summer Passage (Snitzel), the Charm Spirit filly was bought for $70,000 from Windsor Park Stud’s Book 1 draft at Karaka 2021.
“She’s a nice filly that was bought by (Ballarat trainer) Henry Dwyer at the sales,” Pike said. “Swettenham Stud owns her and it is great that they have left a horse in New Zealand to race with us.
“They have left her here to try and get some black-type as an early two-year-old, and also to hopefully have a Karaka Million runner.”
In third position on the order of entry is Gibraltar Rising (NZ) (Almanzor), who produced a remarkable performance in the first two-year-old race of the season at Wanganui earlier this month. Losing around 10 lengths after veering very wide around the home turn, the Team Rogerson colt charged home to finish third and only a length and a quarter from the winner.
Looking ahead over the next couple of weeks, the South Island joins the juvenile racing action this Saturday with the running of a $15,000 maiden two-year-old at Riccarton Park, while Matamata will host another $15,000 event on 9 October.
Karaka Million 3YO Classic
The order of entry for the $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) is headed by a stellar two-year-old talent of last season, On The Bubbles (Brazen Beau), who scored sparkling victories in the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) and Group One Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).
Bought by Te Akau’s David Ellis for $90,000 from Book 1 of Karaka 2020, On The Bubbles has won four of his six starts and $743,550 in stakes. His three-year-old debut has been held up by minor surgery on an epiglottic entrapment, but the return of the Jamie Richards-trained star will be eagerly anticipated over the coming months.
His stablemate and Karaka Million 2YO placegetter Sneaky Shark (Capitalist) holds the second spot on the order of entry, while a notable mover in the early part of this season has been exciting South Island filly Art De Triomphe (NZ) (Vadamos), who now sits in third.
Bought for $80,000 by Go Racing from Seaton Park’s Book 1 draft at Karaka 2020, Art De Triomphe won one of her three starts as a two-year-old last season.
She has gone to a new level at three, winning both of her first two starts including a dominant three-length romp in the opening leg of the New Zealand Bloodstock Southern Filly Series – the $60,000 Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) at Riccarton Park on 18 September.
All eyes will be on Hastings this Saturday for the running of the $110,000 Group Two Dundeel at Arrowfield Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) – traditionally a key pointer for Group One features at Riccarton Park in November, and also for the Karaka Million 3YO Classic in January.
Last year’s Hawke’s Bay Guineas was won by Aegon (NZ) (Sacred Falls), who added the Group One New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) a month later before edging out Amarelinha (NZ) (Savabeel) in an unforgettable finish to the Karaka Million 3YO Classic.