Former top juvenile Sword Of Osman (Savabeel x Bunyah) was back in the winning groove at Te Rapa where he took out the Gr.2 James & Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes (1400m) with a bold front-running performance.
A Group One winner during his two-year-old season, the Savabeel gelding had been slow to find his feet in this campaign with two unplaced efforts preceding Monday’s much improved showing.
Aided by an inch-perfect ride by Opie Bosson, Sword Of Osman dictated the speed throughout before repelling a strong challenge in the run home by Qiji Express, who failed by just a nose to topple the winner. Race favourite Madison County, the stablemate of the runner-up, made ground late to finish third without threatening the first two home.
Trainer Jamie Richards, who prepares the gelding for the Te Akau Great Sword syndicate, admitted he wasn’t sure if his charge had got the victory until the judge declared the result of the photo-finish.
“I wasn’t sure but I watched it with David (Ellis) and he said don’t give up just yet,” he said.
“A big thanks to the team at home who look after him and have done a good job to get him back on track.
“He took a while to come out of the winter but we haven’t been able to fault him at home.
“It mapped like he might get it soft enough (in front) but that’s probably up to his peak in terms of distance.
“It was a lovely ride by Opie, who rides him in all his gallops. He is such an important part of our team so I’m really thrilled for him.”
Richards confirmed Sword Of Osman will now head south to contest the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 10.
“We’ll sit down now and make some plans as we will have three or four in the Guineas,” he said.
“It’s been a good race to us so why not.”
Sword Of Osman now sits on the second line of betting on the TAB Fixed Odds market at a $7 quote, a price he shares with stablemate Our Flying Ace behind favourite Madison County who remains steady at $2.80.
The Savabeel gelding was a $165,000 purchase by Te Akau Racing boss, David Ellis, from the Trelawney Stud draft during the Premier session of the 2017 National Yearling Sale when sold on behalf of breeder Joan Egan. – NZ Racing Desk