Having adopted the philosophy that winning races starts in the sales ring, Te Akau Racing will again be out to make its mark in Australia, led by its latest Group One winner Te Akau Shark.
Principal David Ellis is a renowned judge of horses and has enjoyed success and longevity through the likes of Darci Brahma, Princess Coup and King’s Chapel.
Since Jamie Richards took over as sole head trainer more than 18 months ago, the organisation has continued to strengthen and at Randwick on Saturday they saddle up two Group One runners.
Te Akau Shark will chase his first elite win on Australian soil in the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) while Probabeel tackles the Surround Stakes (1400m).
The stable also has Melody Belle headed to the All-Star Mile in Melbourne as part of what Richards admits is a pretty special team.
“We’re in a very fortunate position where David Ellis goes to the sales and buys nice horses for our stable,” Richards said.
“They put a lot of emphasis on trying to buy the right horses because eventually, that’s where the races are won and lost, in the sales ring.
“We’ve got a great team of staff. It’s a good team environment and a good place to be training from.”
Te Akau Shark is on a mission towards the Queen Elizabeth Stakes after proving himself top-tier in the spring with a narrow second to Kolding in the Epsom Handicap and a Cox Plate placing behind Lys Gracieux and Castelvecchio.
Both times he drew wide gates and that is again the case on Saturday when he has barrier 13 of 14.
Richards will leave tactics to regular rider Opie Bosson who missed Te Akau Shark’s two Sydney spring starts in the Tramway Stakes and Epsom because of commitments in New Zealand.
“We’re getting used to the bad draws. It’s just part of it,” Richards said.
“I will leave it up to Opie a little bit but he won’t rush him and do much early. He’s a horse that likes to find his feet, even if he ended up three-deep with a bit of cover.
“He’s got very good form from the spring so if he can run up to that form he should be competitive.”
As for his own career, Richards is happily ensconced in New Zealand where he sees some positive signs of industry change.
But he has not ruled out an overseas move in the future.
“I never say never, we will just see what happens,” Richards said.
“Obviously our industry isn’t exactly thriving like Australia is at this stage but they are putting the wheels in motion to try to make some changes and hopefully they won’t be too far away.”