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United approach gets stable to memorable mark

Former Sunline Scholarship recipient Jamie Richards
Former Sunline Scholarship recipient Jamie Richards

Teamwork has been the key to Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards sitting atop the national trainers' premiership with a century of winners.

The Matamata partnership hit three figures for the season when Esprit De Corps was successful at Te Aroha on Sunday.

"It's not just about Stephen and I," Richards said. "It's been a huge effort by all the staff with the vets, farriers and chiropractors getting in behind us to make sure that we get the horses to the races in the best possible condition.

"Then there is the support of David Ellis, his wife Karyn and Mark Walker – they have been terrific."

Walker, who oversees Te Akau's overseas operation, is also enjoying another outstanding season in Singapore with 41 winners already in the defence of his premiership crown.

While Autridge and Richards, whose stable jockey Matt Cameron has posted 142 winners this term, are 100 not out for 2015-16, they don't expect to be bettering the national record of 114 set by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman last season.

"I don't think we'll get that far, but we might be looking at it in the seasons to come." Richards said.

"When we look back, we believe our horses have been placed well and we've had them winning at every level for our owners."

Te Akau principal Ellis said the season had already exceeded all expectations.

"It's very hard in New Zealand racing for a stable to get to 100 winners and for Stephen and Jamie to do it, and in Jamie's first full season, is a remarkable effort.

"I said to the boys at the start of the season that the premiership to me is the stable that gets the most Group One races and I would also like to see them get 85 winners, never did I think they would get to 100.

"We're the only stable in New Zealand to have won four Group One races, we've had the only two-year-old to have won twice at black type level (Heroic Valour – Gr.1 Diamond Stakes, Listed Reid & Harrison Slipper) and Xtravagant has won two Group One races – it's been remarkable."

Te Akau's other top-flight winner was Risque, who won the NZ 1000 Guineas for The Oaks Stud before her sale to Australian interests.

Ellis is also looking to Group One success in Singapore with the Walker-trained Rockfast a live Singapore Derby contender following consecutive wins.

"He's going to be a huge chance for our owners," he said. "After his three-year-old career we gelded him and some horses thrive after that, others can take 12 months to get over it and he was one of those."

Rockfast was runner-up in the Gr.1 NZ 2000 Guineas, the Gr.2 Great Northern Guineas and the Listed Karaka Mile before he transferred to Singapore.

Jamie Richards was a graduate of the 2012 Sunline Trust Scholarship.