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Star Mare Spans Two NZB Insurance Triple Crown Series

8 March 2020

Avantage (Fastnet Rock) claims the Group One Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes.
Avantage (Fastnet Rock) claims the Group One Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes.

Avantage (Fastnet Rock) mastered another new distance challenge in Group One Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie, and her name now features on the roll of honour of two of the three NZB Insurance Triple Crown Series.

The Jamie Richards-trained Karaka graduate was the champion two-year-old of her generation and a multiple stakes winner as a three-year-old, including in Sydney last March.

Avantage hit her first Group One high this season in the Group One Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham in January – the middle leg of the inaugural NZB Insurance Sprint Triple Crown Series.

She was then tested over 1600 metres for the first time in last month’s Group One Haunui Farm WFA Classic at Otaki, and it was a test she passed with flying colours.

The next test was Saturday’s Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes. It was the final leg of the inaugural NZB Insurance Weight-For-Age Triple Crown Series, and it featured the winners of both of the previous legs – True Enough (NZ) (Nom du Jeu) and Tiptronic (NZ) (O’Reilly).

But over the last few weeks, Avantage has risen to every challenge and excelled, and Saturday was more of the same.

After enjoying a cosy midfield run under jockey Opie Bosson, the four-year-old mare moved off the rail to make her run at the top of the home straight.

She sprinted impressively and charged to the front, then ran out the 2000 metres strongly, denying the late challenges of True Enough and Supera (NZ) (Savabeel).

The Willie and Karen Calder-bred Avantage was a $210,000 purchase at the 2017 Premier Sale by David Ellis, and she has now won 10 of her 17 starts and more than $1.4 million for her owners, the Te Akau Avantage Syndicate.

She is now a four-time Group One winner, and her versatility has drawn comparisons with 10-time Group One-winning stablemate Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands).

“We had a nice run and she was too strong in the finish,” Bosson said. “She reminds me of Melody Belle, and she’s following in her footsteps pretty quickly.”

Trainer Jamie Richards was full of admiration for his mare’s performance.

“She is just tough, isn’t she,” he said. “We’ve always spoken about her constitution and her strength.

“These are the type of horses that Dave goes to the sales to try and buy, and the results are there to see.”

Both the NZB Insurance Sprint Triple Crown and NZB Insurance Weight-For-Age Triple Crown have now concluded, with three different winners for each of the three races in both Series. No horse was able to win the $100,000 bonus for winning all three designated races in either Series.

The third and final NZB Insurance Triple Crown Series is the Fillies and Mares’ Triple Crown, which begins with the $70,000 Group Three Cuddle Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on March 14. The remaining two races in that Series are the $200,000 Group One New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha on April 4 and the $100,000 Group Two Travis Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa on April 25.

Remarkably, Avantage may now feature in that Triple Crown Series as well.

“Avantage is a little bit different to Melody Belle in that she is a great eater and has a little more natural strength, so she should be able to handle the back-up into the race at Te Aroha,” Richards said.

“It will be back to a mile, which is probably her pet distance, so I would say that is where we will probably be in three weeks.”

Vendor The Oaks Stud
Purchaser Mr DC Ellis (Te Akau)
Breeding Fastnet Rock – Asavant
Sale Lot 50, 2017 Premier Sale, $210,000
Bred by Mr W Calder & Mrs K N Calder