Aotea Lad has the makings of a smart juvenile and a strong debut performance to win the Gr.2 Anuka Smoker Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m) at Trentham has all but booked his passage to the lucrative Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie on January 26.
The Jamie Richards-trained son of Savabeel will derive plenty of benefit from the raceday experience after being only moderately into stride and showing signs of greenness over the concluding stages, yet his class meant the result was never in doubt.
Ridden by Opie Bosson, Aotea Lad had half a length to spare over Snitzel colt Killin, with Aretha also finishing well for third.
“Earlier on in the spring, he was very colty and the decision was made to geld him and since then he has turned into a racehorse. He has got it all in front of him,” stable representative Paul Richards said.
“It was always the plan to ride him back, like he did at the trials, and just get a drag across the junction and try to get over them late.
“Obviously he is going to improve a lot from today.
“He will probably go into the Eclipse Stakes (Gr.3, 1200m) and then into the Karaka Million.”
Te Akau Racing have won the past two editions of the Karaka Million with Avantage and Melody Belle and Aotea Lad adds to the stable’s arsenal of talented two-year-olds that could tackle the race this season.
By Savabeel out of the Group One-placed juvenile Corsage, Aotea Lad was bought for $200,000 by Te Akau principal David Ellis at the Karaka Book 1 Yearling Sale earlier this year.
Winning rider Opie Bosson was full of praise for the gelding and said he rates right up there with the stable’s leading two-year-olds, which includes last Saturday’s impressive Ellerslie winner Probabeel.
“He got there in the last 50m and started looking at the big screen and the winning post and there was plenty more left in the tank,” Bosson said.
“He showed a good turn of foot. When I really asked him and put the pressure on him, he went for me until he got there by himself and that is when greenness kicked in and he has just had a bit of a look around.
“He’s only had two trials and still doesn’t know what he’s doing, so he is a pretty special little horse.” – NZ Racing Desk