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Karaka Million Fields Taking Shape

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

On the Bubbles (Brazen Beau). Photo: Trish Dunell. 

Less than two weeks out from New Zealand racing’s richest day, the fields are taking shape for this year’s $1m DoubleTree by Hilton Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) and $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on January 23. 

Te Akau Racing and Jamie Richards, who have won the Karaka Million 2YO for the last four years in a row, have suffered a blow with early favourite Palamos (Extreme Choice) withdrawn due to a minor setback.

However, the powerful team still has five horses among the top 13 in the order of entry, including the TAB’s top three favourites On the Bubbles (Brazen Beau), Millefiori (NZ) (Iffraaj) and Sneaky Shark (Capitalist).

On the Bubbles, who was bought by David Ellis for $90,000 from Book 1, lifted his earnings to $24,300 with a superb three-length victory in Sunday’s Norwegian Park 1200 at Ellerslie. He has now had two starts for two impressive wins.

“It was a good tough win from an improving horse,” Richards said. “We went into the race quietly confident that he was ready to run well. The idea was to ride him off the speed, teach him to relax, and finish off.  He didn’t have all favours in the run, caught three out without cover, but I thought he put them away quite nicely and looked good doing it.

“It’s a big step in the right direction for the Karaka Million in two weeks’ time. He’s unbeaten in two starts, and I think the turning point was the opportunity to geld him and turn him into a racehorse. We were struggling with his attitude beforehand and he was not quite trialling up to expectations, but he’s come out and proved himself.”

Stablemate Millefiori missed Sunday’s race due to a temperature, and she will instead have her final Karaka Million dress rehearsal at Tauranga on Friday – the same lead-up race that was used by last year’s Karaka Million winner Cool Aza Beel (NZ) (Savabeel).

Te Akau’s other 2021 Karaka Million 2YO runners are Sneaky Shark, Avonallo (NZ) (Belardo) and Sophisticardo (NZ) (Burgundy).

Meanwhile, the Shaun and Emma Clotworthy-trained Seven Twenty (NZ) (Power), who sits in sixth place on the order of entry with $8,200 in stakes, has had a recent ownership change with major Australian syndicator OTI Racing purchasing a 50% share.

“It’s not every day that the chance to buy into a horse whose next start is in a million-dollar race comes up,” said OTI’s general manager Shayne Driscoll. “We’re looking forward to seeing her step out for OTI and hoping she can put in a strong effort.

“She’s well-bred, has a striking physical presence and her recent form shows all the attributes of a very talented filly with an abundance of potential.”

Bought for $14,000 from Book 3 of Karaka 2020, Seven Twenty has finished third and second in her two starts to date, both at Ellerslie.

Excitement is also building for the Karaka Million 3YO Classic, which looms as an unmissable clash between star colt Aegon (NZ) (Sacred Falls) and electrifying filly Amarelinha (NZ) (Savabeel).

Aegon is unbeaten in three starts, including superb victories in the Group One New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) and Group Two Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m). He produced a bold exhibition gallop at Ellerslie during the recent Christmas Carnival.

That same carnival produced a breakthrough moment for Amarelinha, who blew her rivals off the track in the Group Two Eight Carat Classic (1600m) in the third start of her career. She is trained by Richards and was ridden by Opie Bosson, and her spectacular performance prompted comparisons with Karaka Million 3YO Classic-winning stablemate Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel).

The TAB currently rates Aegon a $2.20 favourite for the Karaka Million 3YO Classic, with Amarelinha right on his heels at $2.40.