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Million Dollar Couples

20 Jan 2021

What is it like when the first horse you own gains a spot in the $1m Doubletree by Hilton Karaka Million 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m)?

Ben Masters and Tash McDonald


Freelance videographer for Te Akau Racing and Boys Get Paid visionary Ben Masters has a share in Millefiori (2 f Iffraaj – Miss Bluebell, by Savabeel) with his racing fanatic partner Tash McDonald, drawn barrier five, and explains:

“I told everyone that we wanted barrier five, and got five, unbelievable,” he said “Tash was at work today so I was dying to get to my phone and text her the result after all we’ve been talking about over the past few weeks – it’s pretty special”

“It was gutsy when she won first-up at Ellerslie, and she had a few issues going in the race at Tauranga. So, obviously not one-hundred percent but she won it pretty easily. It sounds like she’s been eating well since then, had a couple of days in the paddock, and gallops tomorrow (Thursday).

“If she’s anywhere near one-hundred percent, I think she’s a real chance. Danielle (Johnson) can do the job.

“It’s our first share in a horse, so pretty lucky. I’ve been around the (racing) traps for a couple of years and know how hard it is to get a horse to win a good race, or even a race. I am lucky that my Mum is also in this horse with us so it’s a real family affair.

“To be in the race with a horse that has won two from two is huge, especially being involved with Boys Get Paid and having been there for the last four years and seen Melody Belle, Avantage, Probabeel, and Cool Aza Beel win for Te Akau, to share in a live chance is pretty crazy and pretty surreal.

“I was at the Karaka Sales last year and remember filming Millefiori and thought to myself that this is the horse I want to be in on. I thought she might give us a bit of a surprise as a two-year-old, and have more in store as a three-year-old. And, here we are.

“It’s been a nervous last two weeks and a bit of a sleepless night before the barrier draw, but now she’s drawn five there’s not much more we can do and it’s all up to her. She’s got a grouse draw, nice jockey, eating well, and now one-hundred percent, she could get the job done.

“I saw in her trials before she raced that she just loves being a racehorse, loves beating her mates when it comes to running, so if Danielle gets her out they might find it tough to get past her. Like (stable-mate) Sneaky Shark had a bit of trouble getting past her at Ellerslie. She said ‘no, no’, I’m going to win this race.

“I’m a big fan of the race and with the knowledge she’s only to get better as a three-year-old, it’s pretty exciting. Hats off to Te Akau, I’ve done some filming for them and we find out how we go on Saturday.”

Debut winner Millefiori (2 f Iffraaj – Miss Bluebell, by Savabeel) made it two from two in the $22,500 Ray White Papamoa 2YO 1200 metres on 15 January at Tauranga.  The was something about her trial performances that suggested reserves for race day and following a terrific debut victory in the Maiden 2YO 1100 metres on 28 November at Ellerslie, Millefiori has now won both her starts. Owned by Te Akau Millefiori Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM), she was purchased by David Ellis CNZM for $65,000 at the 2020 Karaka Book 2 Sale, from the draft of Archer Park.

Millefiori drew barrier five. Part-owner Ben Masters (Boys Get Paid) said: “850 of Boys Get Paid members will be there on Saturday night. Awesome effort by Luke (Kemeys) to get so many organised, hopefully with a couple of hundred grand to bet and you never know Millefiori might cop it.”


Jarrod Smith and Rebekah Palmer 


New Zealand All Whites’ international Jarrod Smith, son of well known New Zealand cricketer and Sky Sports Commentator Ian Smith, has a share in On the Bubbles (2 g Brazen Beau – More Bubbles, by Sebring), and explains:

“My fiancé Rebekah Palmer and I, about this time last year, had a conversation with Julia-Rose and Hamish (Hayes) and although I’ve got a family history in racing I’d never got involved in a horse, and now we’re pretty fortunate to have a leading chance in the race,” he said.

“Two from two, so far, each from the widest gate, so that’s the one positive we can look at after the barrier draws this morning and say, hey, he’s done it from there twice before.

“This will be the first time I’ve seen him race live on track, which is exciting, and not to mention it being a million-dollar race.

“Dad loves his racing and been involved in a few horses over the years and my grandfather on my mother’s side was involved in a Derby winner and a Sydney Cup winner.

“Mum and Dad will be there, and both my brothers and their partners, and friends will be coming along, so we should have a good crew to cheer him home. We want to take advantage and enjoy the occasion. It’s been an unbelievable ride for Rebekah and I and it’s a blessing to share this will our family and friends.

“I’d backed Probabeel and Cool Aza Beel at the Karaka Millions last year, so a good day on the Te Akau horses, and I thought it would be pretty good to be involved in a horse.

“I was always a big fan of his sire, Brazen Beau, as a racehorse and thought I’d have a crack with one of his sons. It’s been a great journey so far, and here we are. It’s certainly an experience I won’t forget.

“Brazen Beau is one of the best sires of his generation and I’m a big fan of a horse by him in Australia, North Pacific. He’s got some fast horses.

“The emails and communications we get about the horse are exciting. We had our ups and downs, like every horse, and in early December I could safely say that he wasn’t a chance for the Karaka Million, but Jamie (Richards) and Opie (Bosson) spoke after one of his trials and thought it was time to geld him. And, that’s been the difference and Jamie has said publicly that the horse turned the corner after that.

“He had an okay trial after being gelded, but once he hit the race track he’s continued to improve. He’s done it tough in both starts and shown a lot of character and ticker, and I like that about him.

“From all accounts, he is in great order and Jamie was happy with his work yesterday. If Johnathan Parkes rides a peach, like he has in his last two starts, I’m confident he’ll give us a really good look.

“I woke up at 5.30 a.m. this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, so that’s an indication of the excitement levels.

“Having the association with a horse in ownership is pretty cool. I’ve played some pretty high level football in my life, which has taken me around the world, and been pretty nervous and excited at times, but I think this will be right up there on Saturday.

“When I saw the barrier (15) I was a bit frustrated. But, in hindsight, in early December he was no hope for the race and we’re here with a live chance. And we’re very fortunate here in New Zealand that we’re allowed to go along and support him with my friends and family. It would be pretty frustrating to have your first horse in a race like this and have to sit on the couch and watch it. How lucky we are to be able to go and fill the grandstands.”

A winner on debut, On the Bubbles (2 g Brazen Beau – More Bubbles, by Sebring) dealt to his rivals second-up in the $22,500 Norwegian Park 2YO 1200 metres on 10 January at Ellerslie. Despite doing it tough, On the Bubbles went into overdrive and had his rivals gasping 200m out as he raced away to win easing down by three lengths. It was a scintillating effort. He was purchased by David Ellis CNZM at the 2020 Karaka Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Leanach Lodge, and owned by Te Akau Splash Of Dom Racing Partnership (Mgr: Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM).

On the Bubbles drew barrier 15. Te Akau marketing manager Julia-Rose Hayes who is a part owner in this horse with her husband Hamish said: “He’s won both his races from wide draws, so we’ll be on the bubbles regardless of the result.”

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