The champion partnership of Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards is set to end with Richards going solo at Te Akau Racing.
The premiership-winning partnership of Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards is set to end with the announcement today that Autridge is leaving Te Akau Racing.
The end of the three-year training partnership that has netted more than 260 wins in New Zealand and Australia will cease at the end of the current season, when Richards will take over sole charge of the powerful Matamata-based training operation.
This afternoon’s announcement by Te Akau principal David Ellis follows the recent decision by Autridge to step back from the demands of training a large team ahead of weighing up his future options.
Autridge has had two stints with Te Akau, the first of them lasting five seasons in the mid-1990s, which was followed a decade later by a training partnership with Graeme Rogerson that included two premierships. He returned to Te Akau in May 2015, joining forces with Richards, and in their first full season together they won the 2015-16 trainers’ premiership with 104 wins.
In the 2016-17 season they finished third on the table with 74 wins and in the current term they are positioned in second place on 80 wins. Their 2017-18 tally includes 17 stakes wins – five of them at Group One level – and a strike-rate of 5.15.
“Steve and Jamie have been a tremendously successful partnership for Te Akau,” Ellis told www.theinformant.co.nz. “Mark Walker told me that when he was foreman under Steve he learnt so much from him before stepping up as a trainer in his own right and it’s been the same for Jamie over the past three years.
“When Jamie began with us as racing manager it became very obvious to Mark and myself that we had a young guy of unbelievable talent, just a natural. Obviously he wasn’t ready to take the team over at that point, but I remember Mark telling me how much he learnt from Steve, so it was the right fit to appoint Jamie and Steve together.
“We totally respect the decision by Stephen and his wife Lynley; they are two of the finest people you will ever meet in racing. They are both champion individuals and we have been so fortunate to know them as professional colleagues and more importantly as friends for such a long period of time.
“Jamie comes into this role with world-class credentials – with a double University degree in commerce and marketing,” Ellis added. “He has been the recipient of the prestigious Sunline Scholarship and has a huge grounding in industry knowledge.
“This began very early in his life with his parents Paul and Leanne Richards who are highly respected in the industry; continued with his overseas’ scholarship experiences; then his tenure at both New Zealand Bloodstock and Waikato Stud before becoming Te Akau’s racing manager.”
During his late teenage years Richards took out an amateur riders’ licence with outstanding results – eight rides for four wins including one in the Te Akau tangerine colours.
“I would like to thank Steve Autridge,” Richards said with regard to the past three years and what awaits him in the new season. “As he was to Mark Walker, he has been a great mentor to me throughout our partnership.
“I have learnt a lot from him and am hugely grateful for that guidance. We have had a great three seasons together and while I am sad to see our partnership end, I am also incredibly excited about the future.
“To lead the Te Akau NZ operation is a once in a lifetime opportunity, it’s a dream come true and I can’t wait for the new season. The horsepower in the stable for the new season is formidable and the team and I are totally committed to bringing out the very best in every one of them for our exceptional group of owners.”
Autridge is likewise looking forward to turning the page and exploring fresh opportunities. “At this point I know I’ll have 20 horses to carry on with while I consider my options,” he said.
“It’s been a wonderful three years which have enabled me to tick three important boxes – I’ve trained a Derby winner, I’ve won another premiership, and I wanted to train 1,000 winners and that happened recently on the day we laid my mother Gloria to rest.”
Ellis remains confident about the future for Te Akau, having outlaid $9.5 million in yearlings this year and high expectations for the fresh intake set to join proven stable talent.
“Between Karaka in January, Sydney at Easter and this week’s Karaka sale, I’ve bought 38 yearlings,” he said. “Quite frankly it’s the nicest bunch of young horses I’ve ever bought and I’m excited about what the future holds knowing that they will be in the hands of such a great team of people headed by Jamie Richards.
“He’s done an enormous job already with 13 Group One wins in New Zealand and Australia, which is an incredible feat in itself in three short years, but I believe the best is yet to come.”