Cox Plate placegetter Te Akau Shark will return home to New Zealand for a spell with trainer Jamie Richards to switch his attention to stablemate Melody Belle.
The mare runs on Saturday at Flemington where she will try to add the Group One Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) to her three elite level wins at home this spring.
New Zealand’s reigning Horse of the Year has settled in well and will be ridden by Opie Bosson who steered Te Akau Shark to a creditable third from the outside barrier in Saturday’s Cox Plate at The Valley behind Lys Gracieux and Castelvecchio.
“Opie will ride her and I guess now what we need is some luck with the barrier draw, certainly more than we got last week,” Richards told NZ Racing Desk.
Richards said he and Te Akau principal David Ellis would discuss Te Akau Shark’s next steps in coming weeks with the Sydney autumn carnival in mind.
Te Akau Shark had two stats in Sydney before the Cox Plate, running second in both the Tramway Stakes and the Group One Epsom Handicap.
The trainer was thrilled with the gelding’s Cox Plate performance which came after he and runner-up Castelvecchio were included in the field in preference to more experienced runners.
“I’m so proud of the horse and also of Opie who was simply brilliant to get him into the money from that draw,” Richards said.
“The mare who won it is world-class and obviously the three-year-old who ran second is top quality as well, so to do what our boy did was exceptional.
“He actually hit a flat spot coming down the side when the pace went on and took three or four strides to get his momentum up.
“Opie made the decision to follow the rail and I think that was certainly the difference in finishing an unlucky sixth or seventh compared to getting that third-placed cheque.
“We will sit down and put a plan together for his next campaign which I would think will have Sydney in the autumn as a focus.
“After his display over the 2000 metres I think a race like the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick has to be a target for him as he has shown he is well up to the journey at weight-for-age.”