Kingsguard enjoys successful homecoming


Kingsguard made a successful return to his homeland with a gritty victory over 1200m at Ellerslie on Saturday.

The Rip Van Winkle six-year-old commenced his career in New Zealand under the name His Majesty for trainer Chris McNab, where he raced six times for three placings, including a runner-up finish to the highly talented Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) winner, Xtravagant.

Transferred to the Sydney stable of Team Hawkes, the gelding put together a handy record of five wins from 31 starts under the name Kingsguard, including victory in the 2018 Gr.3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m).

Kingsguard returned to New Zealand shores earlier this year and was placed with new trainer Jamie Richards where he had undergone a slow build-up to his raceday return.

Richards, who was busy with his stable representatives at Awapuni on Saturday, found time to brief rider Nik Bakar on how he wanted the horse ridden and the Te Akau Racing stable apprentice followed those instructions to the letter to procure a front-running victory.

“I hadn’t been completely happy with him in the build-up to Saturday, so we weren’t that confident of a win,” Richards said.

“There didn’t look to be a great deal of speed in the race, so I said to Nik to take him to the front and make use of his 3kg claim.

“He rode him perfectly and it was great to see him kick back so strongly in the closing stages when it looked like he might get swamped.

“It was a nice way to get him (Kingsguard) started again as he is a pretty classy customer.

“I think we will probably give him one more run in this campaign and then tip him out with a view to bringing him back in the spring.”

The win also created a special memory for Baker who leaves New Zealand on Monday to resume his career in Singapore for trainer Mark Walker.