Heavyweights dominate Karaka Million finish

5 min read
The powerhouses of New Zealand racing were the major players in the outcome of the Karaka Million at Ellerslie to boost confidence levels ahead of New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale.

As an entrée to the action at Karaka, the outstanding performance of Probabeel (NZ) (Savabeel) to destroy her rivals in the richest 2-year-old race in the country bodes exquisitely well for all concerned with the filly.

She was bred and sold by multiple champion vendor Waikato Stud to Te Akau principal David Ellis for NZ$380,000. Ellis has been the leading buyer at Karaka for more than a decade. Furthermore, the filly races in the ownership of new Cambridge Stud proprietors Brendan and Jo Lindsay.

It’s now easy to see why Ellis was so determined to secure Probabeel and the Lindsays were opposing bidders. While they lost the battle in the ring, they won the war post-sale with an agreement to take ownership of the filly.

Also integral to the victory tale is Te Akau’s stable jockey Opie Bosson, who recently became a father again, and had to waste hard to take the mount at a weight that he rarely gets down to.

“It’s really exciting and he’s a freak this guy to be riding at 54.5kg – I’m just so proud of him.” – David Ellis

“It’s really exciting and he’s a freak this guy to be riding at 54.5kg – I’m just so proud of him,” Ellis said. “It’s pretty emotional.”

For the Lindsays, the Karaka Million crowned a memorable 10 months after the couple completed the purchase of the world-renowned nursery Cambridge Stud from Sir Patrick and Lady Justine Hogan last April.

Off the back of Probabeel’s success, they will present their first draft at Karaka under the farm’s banner this week.

The affable Brendan Lindsay enjoyed one of his proudest moments at Ellerslie and he’ll be reliving it for some time to come.

“I taped it and when you watch it in the heat of the moment you’re not sure what’s happening,” he said.

“It’s a dream come true. We bought the stud and it’s great for all the staff and great for New Zealand.” – Brendan Lindsay

“It’s a dream come true. We bought the stud and it’s great for all the staff and great for New Zealand.”

As is his character, Bosson was one of the most laid-back of the major players. Winning Karaka Millions races has become almost second nature to him, having triumphed on Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands) in 2017 and Avantage (Fastnet Rock) 12 months ago.

“It’s been an amazing week and I’m glad it’s all over,” he said. “I’ve been at the hospital all week and hospital food’s no good.

“This filly is all class and whatever she’s doing as a 2-year-old is just a bonus to what she’ll be as a 3-year-old.

“David Ellis buys these wonderful horses and Jamie Richards does an amazing job with them.” – Opie Bosson

“David Ellis buys these wonderful horses and Jamie Richards does an amazing job with them.”

Opie Bosson unsaddles Probabeel after their Karaka Million win

Richards is also a cool customer and in his first season flying solo as Te Akau’s head trainer – he previously prepared the string with the experienced Stephen Autridge – he has performed exceptionally well.

The stable had five runners in the Karaka Million with Aotea Lad (NZ) (Savabeel) finishing runner-up and barn mate Yourdeel (NZ) (Dundeel {NZ}) dead-heating for third.

“It’s a massive team effort and as I’ve said before, I’m only the name in the book.” - Jamie Richards

“It’s a massive team effort and as I’ve said before, I’m only the name in the book,” Richards said.

“We’ve had five young kids leading these horses around and we’ve got a great senior team as well.

“It’s awesome that David buys these horses and this filly for Brendan and Jo. They are an important part of our industry and as David has said they are the most important thing that has happened in our industry for some time.”

Expectations of Probabeel have been high for some time and Te Akau’s Singapore trainer Mark Walker was another to predict greatness for her some time ago.

“Mark saw her in a barrier trial at Te Teko and he said he hadn’t seen a horse trial that well since (former New Zealand Horse of the Year) King’s Chapel,” Richards said.

“She’s not even wound up yet so it’s pretty exciting and the man on board Opie is a massive part of the stable.” – Jamie Richards

“She’s not even wound up yet so it’s pretty exciting and the man on board Opie is a massive part of the stable.”

The part played by Waikato Stud can’t be underestimated as it not only bred and sold the winner but the farm's resident champion sire Savabeel also sired the runner-up.

The result completed a perfect evening for the Waikato team with Ardrossan (Redoute's Choice), in which they are part-owners, also winning the G3 Preferment @ Brighthill Farm Concorde H.

They also bred and sold the multiple Group 1 winner Madison County (NZ) (Pins), who came from a tricky position to finish third in the G1 Karaka Millions 3YO Classic.