Classy three-year-old Equinox and Opie Bosson are in complete charge at Rotorua Photo: Trish Dunell
Hot favourite Equinox dominated his age-group rivals despite testing track conditions in the Lowe Schollum Jones 3YO (1215m) at Rotorua on Saturday.
Twice a winner during his two-year-old season, Equinox came into the race off the back of a 49-day break after finishing second to Catalyst in the Listed Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m) at Hastings.
Wet weather and the resulting unsuitable tracks had delayed his raceday return with the team at Te Akau Racing keen to get a run into him before tackling a black-type feature at Te Rapa later this month.
“It was a lovely ride from Opie (Bosson),” Te Akau racing manager Libby Richards said.
“He’s a very professional horse and we weren’t sure if he would handle the track today, but he did it easily.
“We’ve had a pretty frustrating time with the weather and didn’t think he’d handle it at Matamata (last Saturday), so we scratched him, and he really needed to run today if he was any chance of getting to the Sarten.”
Purchased for $750,000 by David Ellis from the draft of Pencarrow Stud during the 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale to become part of his three-horse Te Akau 2018 Colt Breeding Syndicate, the son of Exceed And Excel will now head to the Gr.2 James & Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes (1400m) at Te Rapa on October 28 before potentially tackling the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 9.
“I’m thrilled for my colts’ syndicate that I bought for that year,” Ellis said. “He’s won three out of six and I think he’s going to go on and do a lot more, yet. He’s strengthening up and maturing into a lovely colt. He’s got a good temperament and I can see him winning a lot more races.
“Opie said he didn’t really lengthen stride on the heavy track, but his track work throughout this campaign has been of a very high standard. So, we were very confident that he would run well but would have preferred to see him on a better track.
“Mark Walker trained the mother of Equinox, Our Ella Belle, and she was very unlucky not to win the 1000 Guineas at Riccarton and I knew she’d leave a really good horse.”
Amongst his priorities, Ellis said he had also started inspections ahead of the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale of 2YOs on 20 & 21 November at Karaka.
“Our attentions have turned to the Ready to Run Sale, which is only four weeks away, and we’ve already started looking at the horses. We’ve had terrific success with horses from this sale, including Group One winners Gingernuts and Hall of Fame, in addition to Cox Plate (Gr.1, 2040m) hopeful Te Akau Shark, and we’re looking forward to buying more nice horses at a sale that is really proving itself.”
On footing rated Slow9 for the first race of the day, but downgraded afterwards to Heavy10, Equinox was sent forward to sit outside the leader by rider Opie Bosson, before powering clear in the run home to register a comfortable two-length victory.
“He travelled beautifully throughout,” Bosson said.
“He was probably travelling too well on the turn and pulled himself to the front and was just too good in the end.”
“He’s always shown quite a lot of ability and he’s a lovely colt.
“We were a little bit worried about the track conditions today and he just passed in those conditions as we were lucky to get first use of it.”
Video replay: The Jamie Richards-trained Equinox is a dominant winner at Rotorua
As easy as you like! Equinox ($1.60) and @opie_bosson take out the opener on Rotorua Plate Day for @TeAkauRacing’s @JamieRichards3 pic.twitter.com/xvANTvpuYf— TAB Racing (@TAB_Racing) October 18, 2019