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Te Akau shine in Trans-Tasman sprint double

3 minute read

Two highly talented Te Akau mares made bold statements with impressive sprinting victories at Flemington and Ellerslie on Saturday.

PUKETIRO winning the FIBER FRESH Picture: Race Images Photo

The New Zealand stable, based out of Matamata under co-trainers Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson, kicked off the Trans-Tasman double with an outstanding display from Puketiro in the Fiber Fresh 1200 at Ellerslie.

A daughter of Savabeel, Puketiro  showed significant early promise in winning four of her first five career starts, but was sent for a freshen-up after performing below the stable's expectations through the late spring.

Returning in a fresh state after trialling twice to prepare, the four-year-old had proved a handful for jockey Opie Bosson prior to the jump, and was slowly away from barrier three, trailing in the early stages behind a strong tempo.

An ever-patient steer by Bosson allowed the mare to track into contention turning for home, and once Puketiro angled out to find clear air at the 200m, she let down powerfully to score by a long neck over Giacomo.

Walker admitted the mare has been in a work in progress for the stable, but was delighted to see her back in winning form.

"It was a really good fresh-up win and lovely ride of Opie's," he said. "She was a bit slowly away, but he rode a patient race.

"She's been a work in progress, has a lot of ability but quite a highly strung filly and our staff have done a great job handling her quirky nature.

"She's certainly up to black type company and we've always had that in mind, but just needed to be patient."

Having earned over $91,000 in stakes for her large ownership contingent, which includes the mare's well-known breeder Christopher Grace, Puketiro will be targeted towards the Listed City Of Napier Sprint (1200m) at Otaki on April 13.

Just under two hours later across the Tasman, Te Akau was back in the winner's circle with Sans Doute as she continued her love affair with the Flemington straight with an astonishing performance in the Listed ATA/Bob Hoystead Stakes (1000m).

The Not A Single Doubt mare has flourished since joining Te Akau's Cranbourne base, rapidly climbing through the grades with three straight victories at the Melbourne venue and entered Saturday's contest a $5.90 hope.

Expat-Kiwi hoop Mick Dee allowed Sans Doute to travel quietly at the tail of the nine-horse field, and once presented on the outside, the four-year-old rocketed home at serious pace to steal victory on the line from Najem Suhail.

Dee was full of praise for the mare, in a perfectly-timed steer he replicated later on the Flemington card when partnering fellow Kiwi-trained stayer Mark Twain in the Listed Roy Higgins (2600m).

"I'm guessing they (leaders) were 10 lengths in front (at the course proper), and it was a very good and strong performance to win like she did. I'm not sure we'll see a more impressive win today," Dee said.

"She's obviously absolutely flying this prep and she can't do any wrong, and to win like she did I'd love to see what her sectionals were for the last 600m."

Te Akau assistant trainer Ben Gleeson expressed that the unique facilities at Cranbourne had played a role in the success of Sans Doute, who finished runner-up to Group One-performing filly Best Seller in the Gr.2 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) as a three-year-old.

"It was pretty impressive, and obviously Mick's ride was 10 out of 10," Gleeson said.

"But the mare, full credit to her, she's got an incredible turn of foot and her confidence keeps skyrocketing.

"Mark (Walker) said to just play around with her and use the facilities, including two weeks out in the sand hills, which is work that has changed her mentally and single handedly turned the mare around.

"Then it was just finding a good routine: four weeks between runs and the water walker, it has just worked for her beautifully."

Walker indicated Sans Doute would likely head to Adelaide for her grand final in the Gr.3 John Hawkes Stakes (1100m) on April 27 at Morphettville.

"It is really hard to do that, winning four in a row and a lovely ride of Mick Dee's," Walker said.

"Ben and the team have done a really good job with her and she's going be an exciting prospect for next year, also.

"We'll now look to go to Adelaide, and then we'll put her aside for the rest of the season."

Sans Doute was a $300,000 purchase out of Arrowfield Stud's draft at the 2021 Sydney Easter Yearling Sale and has earned A$391,757 in stakes for the Te Akau In No Doubt Racing Partnership.

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