Prise De Fer was back at his winning best on Derby Day at Ellerslie taking out the Henley Park Open (1500m).
The son of Savabeel had previously won the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) on the course, among five in a row before finishing second to stable-mate Avantage in the Gr.1 Haunui Farm Classic (1600m) last season..
Trainer Jamie Richards had freshened Prise De Fer after his Rich Hill Mile title defense on 1 January, and he indicated his readiness when stretching out very well for third at the trials on 25 February at Pukekohe.
Hotly fancied to deliver ($1.50 & $1.30) and given a lovely trip in fourth by rider Opie Bosson, he always appeared to have matters under control despite the margin (short neck) being narrow.
“We were 50/50 on running him when they got the rain last night, but our target race (Japan Trophy (Gr. 2, 1600m)) is three weeks and he enjoys his races being spaced,” Richards said.
“I told Opie (Bosson) to give him time to get through his gears because he won’t like the track that much and he had to carry weight, so it was good, tough, genuine effort.
“It was also important for a horse like this whose been running in top graded races to come here and get the confidence of a win. We gave him a wakeup at the trials and I thought he went really well at Pukekohe, and he’s gone the right way since then.
“Sarah (West), who strapped him, has been doing quite a bit of flat work and dressage style work to keep him interested, and I have to give a big thank you to the team at home.
“Sometimes you try different things to keep older horses interested and I think he will take a lot of benefit both fitness-wise and confidence.”
Owned by the Te Akau En Garde Syndicate, Prise De Fer was purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $100,000, from the draft of Trelawney Stud, at the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale.
“He’s won seven of his 20 starts and proved himself against the best here at Group One level," Ellis said.
“We bought him from Brent and Cherry Taylor at Trelawney, who prepared the horse for Raffles Farm, and they’ve both been strong supporters of Te Akau.
“He needed time to strengthen as a three-year-old this horse, but has just kept improving and I think he still has plenty more to offer." - Te Akau Racing