Te Akau unleashed a serious Gr.1 Trackside New Zealand Derby (2000m) chance in Ascend The Throne at Te Rapa on Wednesday, the gelding displaying all of his staying prowess in claiming the Gr.2 Legacy Lodge Waikato Guineas (2000m).
After commencing his career with two strong performances over the shorter trips, Ascend The Throne looked all too comfortable in breaking maidens over 2000m last start, the performance warranting $6.90 TAB second-favouritism behind Group One-performer Zabmanzor for the Guineas.
Jockey Opie Bosson took full advantage of the gelding’s ace draw, jumping away efficiently before allowing the hoard of outside runners to cross nearing the first turn. Renegade Rebel worked to take the eventual lead while Bosson bided his time three-back the fence, and as the pacemaker hung out on the turn, the seas opened for Ascend The Throne at the top of the straight.
As Zabmanzor began to wind-up down the outer, the Savabeel gelding kept finding and staved off a dashing late challenge by Mosinvader to score by a narrow margin, while Te Akau stablemate What You Wish For stormed into third.
“Obviously barrier one helped, he got a lovely run and Opie gave him a 10 out of 10 ride,” said Sam Bergerson, who trains in partnership with Mark Walker.
“Cody Cole’s runner (Renegade Rebel) hung around the corner, so he got the perfect split up the straight. To be fair to the horse, he looked like he was going to be bombed late, but he heard them coming and kicked back so it was a really tough good win.
“We’ve given him a lot of time, and knew once he got over ground, that would be his go. He’s delivering on that and looking very promising.”
Bergerson said the son of Savabeel will now be prepared for the Gr.2 Eagle Technology Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie on February 17, the natural lead in to his grand final two weeks’ later.
“He looks like a really nice Derby chance going forward, so we’ll head to the Avondale Guineas, then onto the Derby,” he said.
Bosson was complimentary of the gelding post-race, indicating improvement is to come having just his fourth raceday appearance.
“We got a beautiful run and the gaps just opened too easily for us, really, and he got there (lead) a bit soon and had a look around,” he said.
“But he’s a very good young stayer and he’s still learning. He tends to get a bit hot and has done before, too, but he’s well behaved and has a good brain.”
Bosson’s last victory in the Te Rapa feature came aboard Mongolian Khan in 2015, a memorable partnership that went on to win the Avondale Guineas and New Zealand Derby, before claiming the Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m) and Gr.1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) across the Tasman.
Alongside the son of Danehill, Jimmy Choux (2011), Silent Achiever (2012), Puccini (2014) and Rangipo (2016) all went on to claim Derby glory after triumphing in the Waikato Guineas.