Yourdeel stormed home from a near-hopeless position to win today’s Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes at Awapuni, delivering a 20th Group One win for rising star Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards – and certainly one of the most satisfying.
The Dundeel gelding became the first horse to complete New Zealand’s two-year-old Group One double (Sistema Diamond Stakes and Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes) since Anabandana in 2011. Like Yourdeel, Anabandana was ridden in both races by Opie Bosson.
On the strength of Yourdeel’s outstanding campaign, that Group One double comes as little surprise. He made a huge impression with a five-length debut win at Te Rapa in December, then placed twice behind star stablemate Probabeel including in the Karaka Million.
Yourdeel scored a dominant six-length win in the Gr. 3 Waikato Stud Slipper at Matamata in February, then bravely fought off Aalaalune and Aretha to take out the Sistema Stakes at Ellerslie earlier this month.
However, confidence was dented when Yourdeel produced a gallop on Tuesday morning that was well below his usual standard.
“After the way he worked on Tuesday morning, I wasn’t sure if we’d be here today or not,” Richards admitted. “But it was a great effort by the whole team to get him here today in such great order, and that man on top (Bosson) is such a massive part of our team as well.”
Bosson was at his brilliant best today on the $1.70 favourite. After settling just behind midfield, he drifted back and had only two behind him as he rounded the turn a huge margin behind the leaders.
But Bosson gave Yourdeel time to get balanced up in the straight, then turned him loose. Yourdeel went into overdrive, charging down the outside and reeling in the front-runners First Rock and Bella Mente.
Again the classy filly Aretha tried to go with him, but again Yourdeel had too much quality and beat her by a long neck.
“Jamie’s a champion trainer who’s done a great job to get him back on track after an ordinary gallop on Tuesday,” Bosson said.
“Once he got balanced up in the straight, he changed leg and really charged to the line. I actually dropped my inside rein and couldn’t get at him with the stick, so he did it all on his own. He’s a top-quality horse, and he’s going to be exciting as a three-year-old.”
The win continued an astonishingly dominant run by Te Akau runners in New Zealand’s two-year-old features. They have won the last three editions of the Karaka Million (Melody Belle, Avantage, Probabeel) including two quinellas and a trifecta, three of the last four Sistema Stakes (Heroic Valour, Sword Of Osman, Yourdeel) including a quinella, and the last three Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (Melody Belle, Avantage, Yourdeel).
Richards has marvelled at the development of Yourdeel, who began the season as something of a problem child.
“He’s taken a fair bit of making,” he said. “He was very colty in the spring. But he’s really stood up and raised the bar. He’s quite an incredible horse.
“Big thanks to Chris Rutten and his fellow owners, they’re all getting a big thrill out of this.”
Rutten paid $100,000 to buy Yourdeel as a yearling at Karaka from Little Avondale Stud, who had previously bought him for $30,000 as weanling.
Raced by Rutten, John Norwood and Rod Preston, Yourdeel has earned more than $375,000 in prize-money in his six-start, four-win career to date.
“He and Equinox (fifth, 1.4 lengths from the winner) will both spell now,” Richards said. “I thought Equinox was right in it halfway up the straight, but it’s possible that 1400 metres is a bit too far for him at this stage. I think he can develop into a lovely three-year-old.”
Aretha’s second placing caps a remarkably consistent campaign for the Charm Spirit filly, who placed in the Gr. 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes on debut before winning the Gr. 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes and placing in the Sistema Stakes.
The third placegetter was the El Roca filly Bella Mente, who began her career with a third placing and a win before finishing fourth in the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes in her only other start. She stuck on gamely today after racing on the speed.