Shamus Award Delivers G1 Victory for Te Akau!

17th January, 2024

Shamus Award Delivers G1 Victory for Te Akau

Media Release – Saturday January 13

Te Akau Racing’s dominance of the Gr.1 Cambridge Stud Levin Classic (1600m) continued at Trentham on Saturday with Quintessa clinging on in an unforgettable finish to become the sixth Group I winner for Rosemont Stud’s Shamus Award..

Those familiar tangerine colours have towered over the $500,000 three-year-old feature in recent times, collecting five wins since 2017 including all of the last three in a row.

Opie Bosson guides Te Akau filly Quintessa to a deserved Gr.1 Cambridge Stud Levin Classic (1600m) victory. Photo: Peter Rubery (Race Images Palmerston North)

Former Te Akau trainer Jamie Richards provided the first three of those victories with Hall Of Fame in 2017, Age Of Fire in 2018 and Imperatriz in 2022. Imperatriz headed an extraordinary first four for Richards that year, with On The Bubbles, I Wish I Win and Mohawk Brave filling the minor placings.

Mark Walker has since picked up where Richards left off, saddling Romancing The Moon and Skew Wiff for a stable quinella in 2023 and striking again with Quintessa on Saturday.

Quintessa started as a $2.70 favourite and brought impeccable form into the race. She won all of her first three starts including the Gr.3 Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings in September, then returned from a spring freshen-up with strong-finishing seconds behind Pendragon in the Wentwood Grange 3YO (1200m) and the Gr.2 Auckland Guineas (1400m).

The Shamus Award filly stepped up to 1600m for the first time on Saturday and produced another exceptional performance to prevail in one of the Levin Classic’s tightest finishes.

Quintessa took up a perfect position in sixth spot, with rider Opie Bosson keeping a close eye on the second favourite Mary Shan (third) and third favourite Impendabelle (fifth).

Michael McNab pushed the button on Impendabelle and pounced at the top of the straight, with Bosson and Quintessa following them every step of the way. Quintessa quickened smartly and thrust her head in front with more than 200m remaining, but her job was far from over.

Mary Shan, Impendabelle and Leroy Brown kept fighting for all they were worth on her inside, while Zabmanzor, Sinhaman and Certainly charged home wider out on the track. In a blanket finish with only three-quarters of a length separating the first six, it was Quintessa who dug deepest of all and snatched a thrilling win.

Quintessa a new G1 winner for Shamus Award. Photo: Peter Rubery (Race Images Palmerston North)

Her margin was a long head over the fast-finishing Zabmanzor, with a half-head back to third-placed Impendabelle and Mary Shan another neck away in fourth. Sinhaman was a nose behind in fifth, with a short head back to Certainly.

“As soon as I got on the back of Impendabelle, I knew that she’d take me right into the race,” Bosson said. “I was giggling turning for home. Michael thought he was going alright on Impendabelle, but I just snuck up behind him.

“My filly did start easing up a little bit once she hit the front, but she’s tough. I could see them coming out wide, I didn’t even know who they were, but I was just hoping she’d put her head down at the right time.

“She doesn’t show much at home – the lead pony could probably beat her on the training track. But she really shows up on raceday.”

Quintessa brought Bosson closer to a major career milestone, giving him his 96th win at Group One level.

“I’m just blessed to have this job that I’ve got with Te Akau,” he said. “David Ellis buys amazing horses for me to ride.”

The sixth Group I winner for Shamus Award, Quintessa certainly fits that description. Ellis paid $170,000 to buy her from the draft of Wentwood Grange at Karaka 2022. Her six-race career has now produced four wins, two second placings and $444,650 in stakes for the Te Akau Awarded Racing Partnership.

©Ashlea Brennan Photography

“It was another gun ride by Opie, who just gets it right so many times,” said Walker, who trains in partnership with Sam Bergerson. “So does David, going and buying these lovely fillies that can win races like this.

“We had a team talk and decided to prioritise this race over the Karaka Millions 3YO (1600m). That race was obviously an attractive option, but we just felt a Group One beside her name would be great.

“We never make decisions on raceday, so we’ll let the dust settle and see how she comes through this before deciding what we do next.”

Quintessa was bred by Peachester Lodge and is out of the High Chaparral mare Chaquinta, who herself won five races in Australia over distances ranging from 2000m to 2700m. – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk.