In what most pundits deemed a match race between Avantage and Levante, it was marvellous mare Avantage who triumphed as she made it seven career Group One wins when taking out a superb victory in the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa.
The opportunity to see two of the best mares racing in New Zealand at present go head-to-head was thwarted when Levante effectively put paid to her chances when she missed the start by a conservative eight lengths.
That didn’t worry the many Avantage supporters who watched jockey Opie Bosson weave some magic as he had the Fastnet Rock five-year-old in the trail after 400m despite starting from the extreme outside barrier in the eleven-horse field.
Bosson moved Avantage forward to take the lead at the top of the straight and put the contest beyond doubt as he sent Avantage three lengths clear of her rivals, a margin that she held comfortably to the winning post to defeat Callsign Mav and Mascarpone with Levante putting up a herculean effort to run fifth.
Bosson was thrilled the pre-race plan that had been devised for the race had worked out perfectly for Avantage.
“We wanted to ride her aggressively today, put her forward and if Levante was five lengths off us, she would have trouble picking us up,” he said.
“She is just a gutsy racehorse as you can ride her back, ride her forward and it doesn’t matter as she is just a gun.
“She is very similar to Melody Belle and she has now won seven group Ones and there is more in store for her.”
Trainer Jamie Richards, who prepares the mare for the Te Akau Avantage Syndicate, has his eyes on an Australian prize later in this current campaign.
“You never like to see what happened at the start because as racing enthusiasts you want to see it pan out on an even-playing field,” he said.
“Unfortunately, that’s how it goes sometimes and Avantage was able to put herself up in a good position and had them in trouble a long way from home.
“She is getting better now as she can put herself up in a race, which she couldn’t do before.
“She is just getting more professional each time and her big group of owners are having the ride of a lifetime.
“We’ll take a couple of days to think about things but there is the Group One at Otaki at the end of the month (Gr.1, 1600m).
“I really do believe she has a Group One win in Australia in her and I would like to give her that opportunity.”
Purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $210,000 from The Oaks Stud draft premier draft at Karaka in 2017, Avantage was bred by Southland couple Willie and Karen Calder from their Group One placed Zabeel mare Asavant.
The Te Akau Racing tangerine colours were to the fore thirty minutes later when exciting three-year-old filly Amarelinha scored handsomely in the Gr.2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies Classic (2000m) to make it three wins on the day for Richards after Festivity scored a hollow victory over 1200m earlier on the programme. – NZ Racing Desk