Marsh and Go Racing Savour Karaka Millions Repeat
27 January 2024
Eleven years after winning the same race with champion two-year-old Ruud Awakening (Bernardini), syndicators Go Racing and trainer Stephen Marsh returned with another top-class filly and achieved a repeat result in Saturday’s $1m TAB Karaka Millions 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie.
Go Racing triumphed with Velocious (Written Tycoon) to snap the seven-year reign of Te Akau Racing. Velocious was a $190,000 purchase from the Book 1 draft of breeders Inglewood Stud at Karaka 2023 and has won three of her four starts and $657,000 in stakes. Inglewood will offer a half-sister by Dundeel as Lot 295 in Book 1 of Karaka 2024.
Velocious wasted no time in establishing herself among the best of her generation, winning her first two starts in November including the Listed Counties Challenge Stakes (1100m) and earning early Karaka Millions favouritism.
Marsh was unfazed when Velocious had her first taste of defeat on New Year’s Day, finishing third in the Group Two Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at Pukekohe. The plan was always to have her at fever pitch on Karaka Millions night, and it all came together when it mattered most.
Champion expat jockey James McDonald returned to his old stomping ground on Saturday to take the mount on Velocious, and he played his part to perfection. He had the chestnut in an ideal position just behind the leaders coming up to the home turn, and she pounced in the straight with a brilliant turn of foot.
Damask Rose (NZ) (Savabeel) and Full Force (Cosmic Force) chased bravely down the straight, but Velocious was in a league of her own and crossed the finish line with a margin of two and a quarter lengths up her sleeve.
“This is bloody great,” McDonald said. “This race has eluded me a little bit and I’ve finished second a few times. I was on the right filly today, trained to the absolute minute. She gave me a beautiful ride today and produced the goods. It was unreal.
“Ellerslie was my headquarters growing up. It was my favourite track and it still is. To get success here is just awesome. There’s nothing like home.
“Even though I live in Australia these days, it’s always great to come back and win races – especially big ones. That crowd is massive!
“I could feel the chasers coming, but she pulled out all the stops. She didn’t feel like she was ever going to get beaten. She’s very, very good, and I just love her tenacity. She’s a gorgeous filly.”
The win held special significance for Marsh, whose mother Kay is in poor health.
“This is for Mum and it means so much,” he said. “All the way through, we thought we had the right filly for this race.
“James was very keen to come and ride her. He hadn’t won a Karaka Millions 2YO, so it’s pretty cool. We think he’s the world’s best jockey, and it’s pretty exciting for Marsh Racing and Go Racing to give him his first win in the race.
“It’s just been one of those preparations where nothing went wrong. She’s had no shin soreness, we haven’t had to nurse her or anything, and she’s just been a perfect racehorse the whole way through. She’s just an absolute gem to train. She does what you like and she’s unbelievable.”
Go Racing manager Albert Bosma said Saturday’s win marked a change in approach for the successful operation.
“In recent years we’ve been largely focusing on middle-distance horses in Australia, because that’s where the money was,” he said. “Now things have changed with all the great initiatives that Entain is bringing and the positive direction that New Zealand racing is heading in. We knew that we had to have the right sort of horses to target these races.
“To win this race today is special for us and even more so for Stephen and his family, with what they’re going through at the moment. Stephen is like a brother and we’ve been doing this together for about 20 years.
“It’s hugely satisfying. Te Akau’s winning sequence in this race is a record that will probably never be beaten, but it’s a race that’s going to get harder and harder to win going forward. So many more trainers are going to be doing all they can to win this race.”
Runner-up Damask Rose was offered by Milan Park at Karaka, where she was bought for $200,000 by David Ellis – the purchaser of all of the previous seven winners of the race. Damask Rose has now had two starts for a win and a placing, earning $180,360.
The third-placed Full Force was a $135,00 purchase by Benner Racing from the draft of Kilgravin Lodge. He has had three starts for three placings and $97,200.
|Go Racing (Auckland)
|Written Tycoon – Parmalove
|Lot 412, Karaka 2023 Book 1, $190,000