Trainer Jamie Richards was happy to put a tick in the mission accomplished column of star three-year-old Probabeel’s campaign plan after she accounted for her age group rivals with deceptive ease at Awapuni on Saturday.
The Matamata conditioner was keen to see the Savabeel filly boost her confidence for an ambitious programme over the coming months with a first up victory and she delivered in spades as she strode clear in the final stages of the 1400m contest. “I’m a firm believer in giving each horse as much confidence as possible and winning is the best way to do that,” Richards said. “We were looking at our options to get her started in this campaign and the race looked a nice way to do that. “She did all she had to do and has pulled up well after her exertions. She did leave a bit of feed last night which is to be expected and is very bright this morning (Sunday).
“She will now head to the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on the 25th and then we will decide on her next move after that. “We’re looking at Australia but whether that is in Melbourne for a race like the Australian Guineas (Group 1, 1600m) or Sydney for the Surround Stakes (Group 1, 1400m) is still to be decided. “Every time we have gone to Sydney with her we have struck wet tracks, so that will be a consideration as she is at her best on the firmer surfaces.”
Richards and Team Te Akau Racing have also finalised the programmes for class performers Melody Belle and Te Akau Shark who will also be seen in Australia in the late summer/autumn. “Melody Belle has had her first couple of pieces of work and is coming along nicely,” he said. “She will have an exhibition gallop at Ellerslie on Karaka Million night (January 25) and then a trial at Te Aroha (February 4). “She will go straight to Melbourne for the Futurity Stakes (Group 1, 1400m) at Caulfield on February 22 and then into the All-Star Mile (1600m), which is her major target.
“Te Akau Shark had some nice time off in the paddock but is back in work now as well. “He is going to trial at Matamata and then will have an exhibition gallop before tackling the BCD Sprint (Group 1, 1400m) at Te Rapa (February 8). “He will head to Sydney after that where his main aim is the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group 1, 2000m) on the last day of the Championships (April 11).”
On the local scene Richards is looking to confirm promising two-year-old Cool Aza Beel’s position in the field for the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at the end of the month when he tackles a two-year-old 1200m contest at Ellerslie this coming Sunday. “We really like Cool Aza Beel and we think he deserves his place in the field for the Karaka Million,” Richards said. “He is borderline to get a run so we will use the upcoming race at Ellerslie to give him his chance to qualify.
“It’s a race we’ve used for that purpose before as it sits nicely a fortnight out from the big one. “He’s had some time off in the paddock so the timing for getting a run under his belt couldn’t be better. “Bordeaux Le Rouge has also qualified for the race but we are just keeping an eye on him as he isn’t quite as robust as the others so he’s not guaranteed to line up. “Yourpoint was our other candidate but he has been very shinny since his win at Matamata so we had a good talk with Chris Rutten and his owners and he will go to the paddock now for a break before we look at bringing him back later in the season. “He looks like a real three-year-old proposition so he will definitely be worth the wait.”
Richards also advised that talented mare Avantage had thrived since her runner-up finish in the Listed Hallmark Stud Sprint (1200m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day and is on target for the Group 1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham while promising filly Star Of Bombay will be having a ten-day break before resuming in the Listed Mufhasa FastTrack Stakes (1300m) at Ellerslie on February 29.