Racing When January 26 rolls around the lights will come down on New Zealand’s richest sporting event of the year, the Karaka Million Twilight Meeting at Ellerslie Racecourse.

NZ Bloodstock

Connections Headed Towards NZ’s Richest Race Day

January 10, 2019

When January 26 rolls around the lights will come down on New Zealand’s richest sporting event of the year, the Karaka Million Twilight Meeting at Ellerslie Racecourse.

Connections of potential 2019 runners are gearing up with the fields taking shape. Let’s take a look at the early leaders for the two $1 million features on the six-race programme, the Karaka Million 2YO and the Karaka Million 3YO Classic.

2019 Karaka Million 2YO

New Zealand’s Champion Sire Savabeel has four of his offspring who have earned a place on the order of entry and the Jamie Richards-trained Aotea Lad (NZ) is sitting at the top with earnings of $76,150. From just two starts, the Te Akau Racing trainer has guided the gelding to a debut victory in the Group Two Challenge Stakes, followed by a second placing in the Group Three Eclipse Stakes on New Year’s Day at Ellerslie.

Aotea Lad is followed closely by another son of Savabeel in Stephen Marsh’s Exuberant (NZ) who has earnings of $34,775. Scoring impressively on debut in the Listed Wellesley Stakes, and a close third behind Aotea Lad in the Eclipse Stakes, he is sixth on the order of entry.

Both sons of Savabeel could provide the Champion Sire with his first Karaka Million 2YO winner.

While Marsh has trained a winner already in Ruud Awakening (Bernardini), Jamie Richards, who has taken top honours the last two consecutive years with previous training partner Stephen Autridge, has nine two-year-olds on the leader board.

Neptune’s Spear (NZ) (Super Easy) could be an Australian raider from the stables of Liam Birchley, with the colt a winner at his first start in the Novotel Brisbane Airport 2YO Handicap. He sits at number four on the current leader board with total earnings of A$42,700.

Owners Chris Rutten and John Norwood won the 2014 edition with the Johno Benner-trained Vespa (NZ) (Elusive City) and the pair, along with Roderick Preston, could score a second victory with debut winner Yourdeel (NZ) (Dundeel) who currently sits at number seven ($18,750) on the order of entry.

Benner, Rutten and Norwood struck again in the first million-dollar running of the Karaka Million 3YO Classic last year with Scott Base (NZ) (Dalghar), who is also co-owned by Joanna and John Frew.

2019 Karaka Million 3YO Classic

2018 Karaka Million 2YO winner Avantage (Fastnet Rock).
2018 Karaka Million 3YO Classic winner Scott Base (NZ) (Dalghar).

Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, with owners China Horse Club, were recently rewarded with Group One success when their Pins gelding Madison County (NZ) took the win in the New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas. He had previously won the Group Two Hawke’s Bay Guineas and with the order of entry determined by NZTR domestic ratings he leads the order at 91.

The partnership also have Group Three Eulogy Stakes winners, the third leg of the NZB Filly of the Year Series, Queen of Diamonds (NZ) (Savabeel) high on the order of entry with a rating of 76.

A close second on the leader board with 89 is Group One New Zealand One Thousand Guineas winner Media Sensation (I Am Invincible). She went into the Riccarton feature off the back of a victory in the Group Three Soliloquy Stakes. Owned by Barneswood Farm for Sarah Green and Netherlands-based Ger Beemsterboer, she is trained by Peter and Dawn Williams.

While there are international connections to these Group One Guineas winners, there are potential runners from Australian stables such as David Haye’s Long Leaf (Fastnet Rock) who is sixth on the order (rated at 82) and booked on a flight to cross the Tasman. A number of three-year-olds are also amongst the leader board from trainers such as Mick Price and Chris Waller.

Last year’s Karaka Million 2YO runners Sir Nate (NZ) (Nadeem), Imelda Mary (NZ) (Ferlax) and Bocce (Foxwedge) are likely contenders for a second attempt at $1 million dollars with ratings of 83, 80, 72 and 71 respectively.

Young gun Robert Wellwood, who trains in partnership with Roger James, could have his first attempt at the lucrative prize purse with last start stakes winner, and Group Three Bonecrusher Stakes place getter, Hypnos (NZ) (Reliable Man). He is eleventh on the order of entry with a rating of 76.

Nominations for the spectacular twilight race meeting will close at noon on Tuesday 22 January, with the fields closing at 10am the following morning. A live barrier draw hosted by Trackside’s Michael Guerin will take place at from 11.10am on Wednesday 23 January. Broadcast live on Trackside Channel 1 and streamed on NZB’s facebook – connections to the runners will draw the barriers at New Zealand Bloodstock’s iconic Karaka Sales Centre.

The order of entry for both the fields are updated daily. View the live Karaka Million 2YO field here and the Karaka Million 3YO Classic field here.

Karaka Million 2YO Honour Roll

2018 Avantage Fastnet Rock x Asavant The Oaks Stud $210,000 Premier Sale Mr DC Ellis
2017 Melody Belle (NZ) Commands x Meleka Belle Haunui Farm $57,500 Premier Sale Mr DC Ellis
2016 Xiong Feng (NZ) Iffraaj x Stray Monovale Farm $30,000 Select Sale ZL Mok
2015 Hardline (NZ) Showcasing x Midnight Breaker Hallmark Stud $130,000 Select Sale LB Racing
2014 Vespa (NZ) Elusive City x Miss Avalon Valachi Downs $34,000 Select Sale Cavallo Agistment Centre
2013 Ruud Awakening Bernardini x Dawn Almighty Westbury Stud $90,000 Premier Sale Go Racing Ltd  
2012 Ockham's Razor (NZ) Any Suggestion x Shadow Ray Rich Hill Stud $170,000 Premier Sale Bahen Bloodstock
2011 Fort Lincoln Charge Forward x Belle Toujours Curraghmore $110,000 Premier Sale Lisa Latta Racing Stables
2010 Sister Havana (NZ) General Nediym x Ultima Vita Shelby Park $40,000 Select Sale Aquanita Racing
2009 The Heckler Lucky Owners x Comedy Café Woodridge Farm $70,000 Select Sale Peter Walker
2008 Vincent Mangano (NZ) No Excuse Needed x Rationable Waikato Stud $80,000 Premier Sale Mr PN & Mrs K McKay

Karaka Million 3YO Classic Honour Roll

2018 Scott Base (NZ) Dalghar x Extra Celestial Brighthill Farm $70,000 Select Sale Chris Rutten Bloodstock


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