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Richards Builds Karaka Million Squad

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020 Karaka Million 2YO victor Cool Aza Beel (NZ).

Champion trainer Jamie Richards has an unparalleled Karaka Million record, and he has an ever-growing number of chances of further success on 23 January. 

Richards and the powerful Te Akau Racing operation have won the $1m Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) in each of the last four years with Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands), Avantage (Fastnet Rock), Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel) and Cool Aza Beel (NZ) (Savabeel).

Probabeel also returned as a three-year-old to complete an unprecedented double with her victory in this year’s $1m Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m).

Richards currently has six two-year-olds among the top 15 positions in the order of entry for the 2021 DoubleTree by Hilton Karaka Million 2YO (1200m).

The undefeated Palamos (Extreme Choice) has moved to the top of the table with earnings of $40,050, courtesy of an impressive victory in the $50,000 SkyCity 1100 at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.

“He doesn’t do a lot in his track work at home, a bit hard to get a line on, but he won well with the hood (blinkers) on,” Richards said. “He’s got further improvement to come and we’ve got time now until the Karaka Million. I’d say he’d go straight there now.”

In that same Ellerslie race, stablemates Sneaky Shark (Capitalist) and Sophisticardo (NZ) (Burgundy) finished third and sixth. Sneaky Shark has now earned $5,000 and Sophisticardo has $7,200, placing them in 15th and ninth place respectively.

A week earlier, Richards produced On The Bubbles (Brazen Beau) for an impressive debut victory at Awapuni. He earned $12,150 to move straight into sixth place on the order of entry.

“He was running on empty at the line, but a big effort after being used at both ends of the race,” Richards said.

“He’s certainly open to more improvement and qualified for the Karaka Million, so I’m really pleased with how he’s going. He’s a horse that has always shown some ability. We had to sort out his attitude a little bit, hence why he was gelded, but really pleased with where he’s at.”

Other Richards-trained runners firmly in Karaka Million contention are Avonallo (NZ) (Belardo), who sits in second place with $33,750, and last month’s Ellerslie debut winner Millefiori (NZ) (Iffraaj), who earned $5,400 and is now 11th on the table.

Meanwhile, Ellerslie’s famous Boxing Day races also unveiled an exciting Richards-trained candidate for the Karaka Million 3YO Classic.

Amarelinha (NZ) (Savabeel) produced an explosive finish for a dominant victory in the Group Two Jamieson Park Eight Carat Classic (1600m).

“She’s a very exciting filly with an amazing turn of foot,” jockey Opie Bosson said.

“I was excited from about the 600-metre mark – she was travelling so well and I just couldn’t wait to let her go. But I waited until the home straight, and then she just went past them all so quickly. She switched off a bit late in the race, having a look at the crowd and pricking her ears.

“I’m so excited. I haven’t ridden one like this for a while.”

Bought for $300,000 from Waikato Stud’s draft in Book 1 of Karaka 2019, she has now won two of her three starts and $60,900 in stakes.

Amarelinha has immediately been installed as a $2.80 second favourite for the Karaka Million 3YO Classic, behind only the Group One New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) winner Aegon (NZ) (Sacred Falls) at $2.20.

“Amarelinha has taken a while to get there, but she’s a big, imposing, filly with a great pedigree,” Richards said. “She’s by the right stallion (Savabeel), with that good brand (Waikato Stud) on her too.

“We’ve got some of our most loyal as well as new owners involved, and she will back here in a month for the Karaka Million 3YO Classic.

“She’s a filly I’ve always had quite a big opinion of. When David bought her at Karaka, I said that I thought she looked a bit like Probabeel.”