Probabeel confirmed her place at the forefront of Te Akau’s Karaka Million team with a last-gasp win in a crucial lead-up race at Ellerslie this afternoon.

Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards, formerly in partnership with Stephen Autridge, has won the last two editions of the Karaka Million with Melody Belle and Avantage. Both of those fillies used the two-year-old race at this meeting as a springboard, with Avantage winning while Melody Belle was unplaced following an unlucky run.

Richards has six horses qualified for this year’s Karaka Million, the most recent addition being yesterday’s debut Trentham winner Louis Luck.

He took the opportunity to line up three of those juveniles in today’s NZB Insurance Pearl Series 1200 – Probabeel, Yourdeel and Challa.

A dominant last-start winner at this track, Probabeel was the pick for stable jockey Opie Bosson and was the $1.70 favourite. Like yesterday’s impressive performer Louis Luck, she carries the increasingly prominent yellow and black colours of owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay.

Patiently ridden by Bosson, Probabeel sat in third-last for most of today’s race as Jager Bombed set the pace. Yourdeel was right on his tail in second, with Tumbleweed third and Challa fourth.

Bosson asked Probabeel to sprint in the straight, and at first she offered little response.

Stablemate Yourdeel had taken the lead and was quickly joined by Hasstobegood, and that pair looked to have the finish all to themselves. But just as time seemed to be slipping away, Probabeel unleashed an irresistible late burst to snatch victory by a head.

“We got a bit off them and it took a bit to wind up, but that last 100 metres was awesome,” said Bosson, who has ridden five winners this weekend.

“She just took a little while to wind up, so maybe a set of blinkers might be going on for the Karaka Million.”

Yourdeel was second in a Richards quinella, with the Roger James and Robert Wellwood-trained Hasstobegood another short neck away in third. The rest of the field, headed by Jager Bombed, was another three lengths behind.

“That was a great result,” Richards told www.theinformant.co.nz. “It’ll hopefully kick us into gear for 13 days’ time.

“It was a very good performance from Probabeel – she’s a really, really nice filly. I thought Yourdeel ran well too. He probably needed a bit of practice this way around, and this race will have done him a lot of good.”

Probabeel has now won two of her three starts and $30,000 in prize-money, while Yourdeel – a winner at Te Rapa in his only previous start – has more than $23,000 to his name. Te Akau principal David Ellis bought Probabeel for $380,000 at Book 1 of Karaka 2018, while Yourdeel was a $100,000 purchase by Chris Rutten at the same sale.

Probabeel is now the $2.60 favourite for the Karaka Million, with the unbeaten Gr. 3 Eclipse Stakes winner Whiskey Neat dropping to second favouritism at $3.40.

The other Richards-trained runners who are high up in the market are Aotea Lad at $6, Yourdeel at $8.50 and Louis Luck at $12.

All of this leaves Bosson, who has ridden the last two Karaka Million winners, with a big decision to make.

“It’s great to have the choice of so many lovely horses that David (Ellis, Te Akau principal) has bought at Karaka,” he said.