After a breath-taking performance on the opening day five weeks ago, Rip Van Winkle’s son Te Akau Shark returned to Hastings Saturday and book-ended the Hawke’s Bay carnival with something even better in the Gr. 3 Red Badge Spring Sprint.
Te Akau Shark emerged last spring with two impressive wins and a close fourth to stablemate Embellish (Savabeel) in the Gr. 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas.
A sparkling win at Hastings on September 1 was Te Akau Shark’s first appearance since then, and he went to another level in today’s $70,000 sprint feature.
His syndicate of owners turned out in force from both sides of the Tasman, many of them wearing matching grey shark hats. They were expecting another big performance from their budding star, and they weren’t disappointed.
Ridden by Michael Coleman at the light weight of 53 kilograms, Te Akau Shark dropped back to third-last in a strung-out field and was giving the leaders as much as 12 lengths as the field streamed down the side of the track.
Coleman brought the flashy chestnut to the outside in the straight and turned him loose, eating up that deficit within a handful of strides. Te Akau Shark bounded to the front and romped to victory by three lengths from highly regarded Group performer Love Affair and Magnum.
“He won really well, he couldn’t have been much more impressive,” trainer Jamie Richards said. “I was a little bit worried at the 700 with the amount of ground he was giving them, but it didn’t matter in the end. He’s a very progressive horse.
“His work had been good coming into it. Five weeks between races suited him, and his gallop at Ellerslie the other day was spot-on.
“This is a fantastic result for a great group of owners. Quite a few of them have come over from Australia for this, and they’re all wearing their shark hats – it’s a bit of fun.
“He’s taken a bit of making, but he’s had five starts now for four wins. Hopefully it’s all ahead of him. We’ve got plenty of options, both here and across the ditch.”
Already the favourite for next month’s Gr. 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile at Riccarton, Te Akau Shark has tightened from $4 to $2.60.
Bought for $230,000 at the 2016 Ready to Run Sale by Te Akau principal David Ellis, the son of Rip Van Winkle has earned $107,875 to date in his five-start, four-win career.