Te Akau Strike Early in Southern Filly Series

18 September 2023

Just like they did in the New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year opener seven days earlier, powerhouse syndicators Te Akau Racing have swept to an early lead in the New Zealand Bloodstock Southern Filly of the Year Series.

Their distinctive tangerine colours were carried by Viva Vienna (NZ) (All Too Hard) to a thrilling victory in Saturday’s first leg, the $80,000 Listed New Zealand Bloodstock Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) at Riccarton. She followed the example set by stablemate Quintessa (NZ) (Shamus Award), who won the Group Three Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) the previous weekend to top the NZB Filly of the Year standings.

Viva Vienna brought standout credentials into Saturday’s Canterbury Belle Stakes. She had won twice as a two-year-old, beating the likes of Karaka Million placegetter Ethereal Star (Snitzel) in the process, and she was runner-up behind Tokyo Tycoon (NZ) (Satono Aladdin) at Pukekohe on Boxing Day.

Viva Vienna made a big statement in her first appearance as a three-year-old, beating the stakes winner Illicit Dreams (NZ) (Vancouver) over 1000 metres at Riccarton on September 2.

Viva Vienna (NZ) battles to the line with Illicit Dreams (NZ)

Two weeks later, those two fillies returned for a superb rematch in the Canterbury Belle. Illicit Dreams threw down the gauntlet, leading all the way and kicking hard at the top of the straight, but Viva Vienna and jockey Sam Weatherley weaved through a gap one off the rail and got out to give chase.

After a desperate duel through the final 150 metres, Viva Vienna gradually took the upper hand and hit the finish line a half-neck in front. Illicit Dreams took second by a comfortable margin of two lengths, with the lightly raced local Warning Signal (NZ) (U S Navy Flag) producing an eye-catching late run into third.

“They wanted to go a little quick for us early on, and I took a sit to give her a chance to run out the 1200 metres strongly,” Weatherley said. “The most encouraging part was the last little bit and she is doing everything right.

“She now has some black type behind her, and I don’t see why she can’t push on from this. She settled well and attacked the line, so I’m thrilled for everyone involved.”

Trained by Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson, Viva Vienna has now had seven starts for four wins and two placings. She has earned $118,775 in prize-money for her owners, the Te Akau Empress Of Austria Racing Partnership. Viva Vienna was bought by Te Akau principal David Ellis for $100,000 from Book 1 of Karaka 2022.

“We knew she would jump well and put herself there, but we discussed having the option to take a sit, and that was the winning of the race in the end,” Bergerson said. “We got a breather in behind Illicit Dreams and then came off her back, so it was a really good ride.

“The query was if she would get a strong 1200 metres. She was very strong through the line, so it was a good effort by a tough little filly.

“If she can stretch out to 1600 metres, the 1000 Guineas could be a lovely target for her. We will get her home and see how she does and then make a plan.”

Viva Vienna now tops the Southern Filly standings with 7 points. Illicit Dreams earned 4 points with her runner-up finish, while Warning Signal collected 2 points.

The Southern Filly now goes on a spring and summer hiatus before resuming in the autumn with the Listed NZB Insurance Stakes (1400m) at Wingatui on March 2.

Vendor Westbury Stud
Purchaser Mr DC Ellis (Te Akau)
Breeding All Too Hard – Anna Of Austria
Sale Lot 89, Karaka 2022 Book 1, $100,000
Bred by G Harvey