In the feature race at Ellerslie this afternoon, a jockey nearing the end of his stint at Te Akau Racing’s Matamata stable scored a brilliant win on a horse who is a recent addition to the team.
Nik Bakar rode his first Ellerslie winner in the $35,000 Electrolux Sprint, guiding the Australian Group performer Kingsguard to an all-the-way win.
After leading for most of the 1200-metre journey, the 14-to-one outsider was headed in the straight by Te Toro Pearl. Rikki Tikki Tavi and Media Sensation joined in out wide in a desperate four-way finish, but Kingsguard fought back powerfully for a gutsy long-head win.
“It was a very good ride by Nik Bakar,” Te Akau’s racing manager Libby Richards said. “It’s great for him to get his first Ellerslie winner before he heads back to Singapore on Monday to ride for Mark Walker.”
Bakar has made a big impression at Te Akau’s Matamata stable this season, winning 13 races from just over 60 rides including 12 for trainer Jamie Richards. He picked up a placing earlier this afternoon on stable runner Griffin.
Kingsguard, a son of Rip Van Winkle, carries the colours of his co-breeders and part-owners Windsor Park Stud.
He began his career under the name His Majesty in Chris McNab’s Cambridge stable, placing in three of his six starts. That included a second to Te Akau star Xtravagant in a three-year-old race at Ellerslie on Boxing Day that is now the Listed Uncle Remus Stakes. He was also fifth behind subsequent Group One winner Valley Girl in a race at the Karaka Million meeting
Transferred into the Hawkes stable in New South Wales, Kingsguard won five races including the Gr. 3 Hawkesbury Cup. He also placed in the Gr. 2 Shannon Stakes in Sydney, plus the Listed Rowley Mile and Scone Cup.
Kingsguard’s last start was an unplaced finish in the Gr. 3 Festival Stakes at Rosehill in December, after which he joined Jamie Richards’ stable. He trialled at Rotorua on March 5 and Matamata two weeks later.
“He won five races in Australia and he’d had two encouraging trials for us leading into this,” Libby Richards said. “We’re still learning about him, but he’ll definitely go on from this when he stretches out to 1400 metres.”
What a tough win Kingsguard on debut for @TeAkauRacing with our apprentice Nik Bakar on board – thrilled for the @WindsorParkStud team, delighted to have him in the stable @JamieRichards3 – more to come for sure!!
— Te Akau Racing (@TeAkauRacing) March 30, 2019