Te Akau Adds to Karaka Millions 2YO Firepower

4 January 2024

The last few weeks have seen Te Akau Racing significantly strengthen their hand in their quest for an eighth consecutive triumph in the $1m TAB Karaka Millions 2YO (1200m).

New Zealand’s leading stable won the race for the first time with Fortuna Racing’s extraordinary Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands) in 2017, and Te Akau has remained untouchable ever since with subsequent wins by Avantage (Fastnet Rock), Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel), Cool Aza Beel (NZ) (Savabeel), On The Bubbles (Brazen Beau), Dynastic (NZ) (Almanzor) and Tokyo Tycoon (NZ) (Satono Aladdin).

Te Akau trainers Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson have had a productive holiday period with their potential Karaka Millions firepower, now holding six of the top 14 spots on the order of entry.

Cool 'n' Fast (NZ)

Leading into Christmas, the highest-ranked among their contingent was the Listed-placed Bellatrix Star (Star Witness), who sat in fourth place with $38,325 in stakes. She has subsequently soared to the top of the table, defeating a star-studded field in the Group Two Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at Pukekohe on New Year’s Day and lifting her career earnings to $167,700.

“Warren (Kennedy, jockey) got her to relax really nicely,” Walker said. “She didn’t quite have all favours last start, but she showed today that when she’s ridden back further off the speed, she really has a good turn of foot. She’s peaking at the right time for the Karaka Millions, which has always been her target.”

Bellatrix Star was bought by David Ellis and Fortuna Racing from Phoenix Park’s draft in Book 1 of Karaka 2023. She has now had four starts for two wins and two placings.

“This is the first Group-winning two-year-old we’ve had since Melody Belle,” Fortuna’s John Galvin said. “We paid $80,000 for her, and to win a Group Two at her fourth start is extremely valuable for her future.  It’s very important black type for the filly, and whatever she does from here on in, they can never take this victory away.”

Te Akau’s second runner in the top five on the Karaka Millions order of entry is Cool ‘n’ Fast (NZ) (Savabeel) with $46,000.

Impressive in two appearances at the trials, Cool ‘n’ Fast made his debut in the $80,000 New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka 2024 2YO (1100m) at Pukekohe on Boxing Day. The classy colt came from second-last and snatched victory by a nose to book his ticket to the Karaka Millions.

“He had to do it the tough way, coming from behind, but you like a two-year-old that can really find the line,” Walker said. “In both of his trials he was quite a natural horse, but when we saddled him up (on Boxing Day) he was a bit above himself and he’ll come on a lot for the experience.

“He chased them down really well and that will probably be his only run before the Karaka Millions. He’s the sort of horse that is more of a three-year-old type, but is just doing it all naturally at the moment. He’s got a good future.”

Cool ‘n’ Fast is a full-brother to the 2020 Karaka Million 2YO winner Cool Aza Beel, who now stands at stud in New South Wales. Ellis paid $340,000 to buy Cool ‘n’ Fast from Hallmark Stud’s draft in Book 1 of Karaka 2023.

Another Te Akau colt who made a big impression on debut recently is When Stars Align (NZ) (Zoustar), who kicked off his career with victory in a $40,000 race at Trentham on December 23. He earned $23,000, which puts him in eighth place on the order of entry.

Te Akau’s other two-year-olds among the top 14 are:

  • Maracatu (NZ) (Ardrossan), who is in 11th place with $16,375.
  • About Last Night (NZ) (Capitalist), whose earnings of $15,350 put her in 12th.
  • Damask Rose (NZ) (Savabeel), who has earned $10,360 and sits in 14th.

Outside of the Te Akau contingent, Queenslander Beau Dazzler (NZ) (Ardrossan) leads the way with $120,150, which puts him in second place on the order of entry. Velocious (Written Tycoon) sits in third with $106,500, while Poetic Champion (NZ) (Super Seth) rounds out the top five with $56,650.

The TAB Karaka Millions 2YO will be run at Ellerslie on January 27, as part of a blockbuster twilight programme that also features the $1.5m TAB Karaka Millions 3YO (1600m) and the inaugural running of the $1m Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic 4YO (1600m).