Williams celebrates big week after enjoying on-track and sale ring success
Agent relieved after much-hyped Fastnet Rock filly delivers on expectations for Te Akau
The fact Andrew Williams was dealing with family when acting for the high-profile Te Akau Racing team of principal David Ellis and trainer Jamie Richards did not lessen the pressure the agent felt when he was charged with being the pair’s eyes and ears at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale for the huge New Zealand operation earlier this year.
With Kiwis unable to get to the Magic Millions last January because of Covid, Richards and Ellis turned to Sydney-based Williams for help.
Richards and Williams are also second cousins and at the Magic Millions sale the pair, along with Ellis, combined to buy six yearlings for a total spend of $2.74 million including a $600,000 Fastnet Rock (Danehill) filly from the Coolmore Stud draft.
Last Saturday, the filly, now named Bright Blue Sky, justified the huge expectations placed on her by Richards and jockey Opie Bosson to win the Fasttrack Insurance 2YO Stakes (Listed, 1100m) at Te Rapa.
Williams, for one, was relieved she was able to make the perfect start to her racing career and Richards was already looking to the future, immediately outlining a possible trip to the Gold Coast for the $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic (RL, 1200m) in January for the youngster.
If Bright Blue Sky makes it to the rich juvenile race, she would become just the second New Zealand-trained juvenile to contest the lucrative race. Peter McKay-trained Travino (General Nediym) ran in the 2012 edition, finishing 11 lengths behind Driefontein (Fastnet Rock) and No Looking Back (Redoute’s Choice).
“Jamie definitely labelled her very early on. I think he sent me an emoji with a rocket (early on),” Williams told ANZ Bloodstock News this week.
“Jamie’s my cousin and she’s actually the first horse we’ve bought together with DC (Ellis), so to have our first runner in a stakes race was really exciting.
“And then, when all this money came for her, I thought, ‘oh no, what have you done, Jamie? You’ve got all the media hyped up’. I said to him, ‘The second favourite (Mascarinto) won well at Matamata and I’ve been trying to buy him for Hong Kong and you think she can just beat it?’ and Jamie responded, ‘Yeah, this thing is a rocket’. He and Opie were having great banter about it because Opie had to lose that weight and there was no way Opie wasn’t riding her (at 54.5 kilograms).”
Williams, who has forged his own growing reputation for identifying quality stock, admitted to feeling a sense of nervousness when called upon by Richards and Ellis to inspect yearlings at the Magic Millions.
“I definitely did just because of the Te Akau brand and the success they’ve had. It was a really interesting process because I was up at 7 o’clock (New Zealand time) when Jamie had finished (track) work and things like that, so it was 5, 5.30am in Australia, so I was up every morning running through shortlists and this and that,” he said.
“I had sent everything with my notes and what my shortlist was and Jamie would come back saying ‘yes, no, yes, yes, no, no’ and then we’d talk through every lot early in the morning and we had everything in place a day or so before the sale, which was great.
“I never worked a sale like that with such an intelligent operator in the sense he was so over it, but he was in a different country training a whole barn full of horses at the same time.
“Jamie likes certain things. He likes a horse who isn’t too big, he likes a very clean horse with good shape. It was a fascinating experience working with Jamie and DC.”
Ellis’ conviction to back Williams’ judgment and spend big at the Gold Coast so far appears as though it will pay off despite the unfortunate death of the $600,000 Fastnet Rock-Joy Of Joys (More Than Ready) filly who was sold by Strawberry Hill Stud.
“We also bought another Fastnet Rock filly who unfortunately got injured really badly and got an infection and we lost her and Jamie thought she was as equally as smart, which was a bit of a blow, and then there’s another I Am Invincible filly out of Choose who has won a trial.”
Named I Choose You, the $500,000 filly is slated to have her first start at Te Aroha tomorrow while a Coolmore-consigned colt by Fastnet Rock out of Zoustar’s sister Ciarlet (Northern Meteor) – who was purchased for $825,000 – won a jump out at Te Rapa on October 21.
Bright Blue Sky’s victory was the middle leg of a successful week for Williams who also had a hand in selecting a pinhooked Pierro (Lonhro) colt who sold for NZ$625,000 at the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale and another yearling purchase and subsequent trade horse, Lucky Patch (El Roca), won the HKJC Sprint (Gr 2, 1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday night.
“I bought him (Lucky Patch, at the Magic Millions National Yearling Sale for $40,000) for Greg and Barb Ingham and for Billy Healey to train him as a bit of a trade horse,” Williams explained.
“He came out and won two races at Doomben (when called Paleontologist) and then we had a private purchase order I needed to fill for the Patch Syndicate. We really rated him and they came in and offered XYZ money and we said no it needs to be this amount and they agreed to that.
“It has worked out well because I knew he was a nice, clean horse from the yearling sale.
“Billy thought the world of him and he had no vices, so to be able to sell a nice horse we knew a lot about to the Patch syndicate makes the job a lot easier.”
As for the $150,000 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale purchase who was successfully traded by Riversley Park’s Sam Beatson and partners at the NZB Ready to Run Sale, Williams was delighted.
The second highest-priced lot sold at the NZB sale, the colt was bought by Group 1 Bloodstock’s Mathew Becker for his major client Ozzie Kheir at the two-year-old auction.
“I loved that – that was proper trading! We traded three horses in the $150,000 bracket who collectively I think have made $1.4 million (at this year’s two-year-old sales),” Williams said.