A tangerine dream: Avantage and Opie Bosson are led back after their Karaka Million victory.
Opie Bosson’s dry-retching began after winning the first race and didn’t stop until the champion jockey had completed his mission with victory on Avantage in the feature event on the Karaka Million twilight programme at Ellerslie.
In a herculean effort both before and during the six-race card, heavyweight Bosson pushed the limits to ride Karaka Million 2YO favourite Avantage at her designated 54.5 kilograms and delivered with a brilliant ride on his pick of Te Akau’s dominant five-horse contingent.
Twelve months ago Bosson had undergone the same rigorous programme to land a first Karaka Million victory for Te Akau on Melody Belle, and today began in similar mode when Bosson combined with the same horse to win the Mongolian Khan Trophy.
The script deviated slightly when Karaka Million 3YO Classic favourite Embellish met one better in Scott Base, but it was picture-perfect as Te Akau’s retained jockey delivered on Avantage.
“As soon as they’d gone 100 metres I knew it was his,” said Bosson’s greatest admirer, his godfather Stephen Autridge, who also shares training duties with Jamie Richards.
At that early stage Avantage was positioned in fourth place one off the rail, from where Bosson was able to bide his time until the fireworks really began with 400 metres to run. The response wasn’t immediate, but most importantly it was resolute as Avantage set out to bridge the gap on a full-flight Bocce.
Gradually the Fastnet Rock filly got the job done and over the final 100 metres she had victory in the bag, hitting the line with three-quarters of a length to spare over her late-finishing stablemate Al Hasa, ridden by champion Sydney jockey Hugh Bowman.
Just a long head back Bocce was brave in third place and three-quarters of a length ahead of his Ballymore stablemate She’s A Thief. Te Akau filly Pinot Grey took fifth to complete a clean sweep for Matamata-trained horses.
On top of last year’s win by Melody Belle, the outcome was everything that Te Akau principal David Ellis, who has led the buying at Karaka yearling sales for more than decade, could have wished for.
“Regardless of the result, this week at the Karaka sales would really be no different, but it’s massive to see all our systems working so well and delivering like this,” Ellis said. “I’ll be there for sure and I’ll be buying with confidence.”
Bosson, who had to excuse himself from the Karaka Million trophy presentations in need of water, remained his normal nonchalant self despite any discomfort he may have been feeling.
To the question of whether Avantage’s win was as straightforward as depicted by Autridge, he didn’t disagree.
“I suppose it was really,” he replied. “We got a lovely trip and she was in the right spot on the turn. The leader didn’t give in easily but I knew it was only a matter of when, my filly was strong all the way to the line.”
Avantage was knocked down to Ellis for $210,000 at last year’s National Yearling Sale and on Tuesday he will have the chance to buy her three-quarter-sister, Lot 479, likewise bred by Deep South oysterman Willie Calder and offered by The Oaks Stud.