Brando – Back to Back Group 2 Wins
2 Apr 2023
Winning four of his last five starts, Brando (5 g Savabeel – Saoirse, by Iffraaj) rose in distance to win the $140,000 City of Palmerston North Awapuni Gold Cup (Gr. 2, 2000m) on Saturday at Awapuni.
Having shown the brilliance that had earned him eight victories when winning the Japan Trophy (Gr. 2, 1600m) last Saturday at Tauranga, Brando stepped to a middle distance for first time but was equal to the task courtesy of an economical ride by Opie Bosson.
Drawn wide (13), Brando was steadied to the rail with a lap to run, remaining rear inner before saving ground inside the 600m and he proved too strong in the finish for recent Taranaki Cup (Gr. 3, 1800m) and Kaimai Stakes (Listed, 2000m) winner Colorado Star (Alamosa).
“I rode him back to run the distance out and, gee, he just kept coming up underneath me at business end,” said Bosson, on dismounting.
“He’s one of my favourite horses at the stable, so I’m just so happy to get a big win on him.
“He’s in form now and Mark (Walker) is doing an amazing job with him. We weren’t sure whether he was going to run 2000 metres, but he did it pretty easily. I had a lap full of horse and he let down beautifully.”
On Soft5 footing, Brando ran 2000 metres in 2:02.6 and held steady in betting to pay $4.00 & $1.90.
“It was a terrific win and outstanding ride by Opie,” said trainer Mark Walker, after recording his 31st stakes win this season.
“He’s always shown us that he’s got the ability, but he’s really put it altogether this campaign and now that he can get 2000 metres it opens up more opportunities for next season.
“We’re quite thrilled with his win today and he’s rewarding the owners with some great experiences.”
Winning the Japan Trophy (Gr. 2, 1600m) by two lengths appeared a performance of reckoning for Brando, who had previously placed in the Levin Classic (Gr. 1, 1600m) and Otaki WFA Classic (Gr. 1, 1600m), and to step up a week later with such a resounding effort was testament to both horse and trainer.
“He’s grown in confidence and he was a bit fresh saddling him up and I thought, geez, he’s loving himself at the moment,” said assistant trainer Sam Bergerson.
“He’s had a few issues, but fair play to the team at the Colt Barn that look after him and it’s all going to plan.
“Opie is the best for a reason and it was a fantastic ride. We thought the inside might be a bit more testing, but he saved ground and that was the winning of the race.”
A beautiful looking horse, purchased by David Ellis CNZM at the 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run, Brando was bred at Fairdale Stud, from whom Ellis also purchased $1m Karaka Million 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m) and Sistema Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m) winner, now stallion in Australia, Cool Aza Beel (Savabeel).
Te Akau last won the Awapuni Gold Cup in 2018 with Our Abbadean (Lookin’ At Lucky), who at the time set a new benchmark (16) of stakes wins in a season for the stable, which has since been eclipsed four times.
“He’s won two Group Two races in a week, so very good effort by the horse, Mark (Walker), and the Colt Barn staff,” Ellis said.
“The way he won over a mile last Saturday at Tauranga, and ran on so strongly after the line, it looked like he might be okay stepping up and the Awapuni Gold Cup was a perfect race to try him.
“It’s a thrill to see him in such good form. Two of the shareholders in Brando are John and Denise Elstob, and we’re celebrating their wedding today, so you couldn’t get a better present.”
Brando was strapped by Ashley Handley.
Photo credit – www.raceimages.co.nz