After a Riccarton reset it is time to reload for trainer Jamie Richards and the
all-conquering Te Akau machine.
The country's leading racing operation put a stuttering first half of New Zealand Cup week behind them by winning five races at Riccarton on Saturday, including the 1000 Guineas with Kahma Lass and the Welcome Stakes with Avonallo.
They also added one at Tauranga to enormously extend the stable's huge premiership lead.
Along with the jubilation of winning in particularly the Guineas for owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay, who have become among Te Akau's biggest single owners, Richards was relieved to get back on track down south.
"It was a frustrating start to the carnival with horses just not getting luck or things not working out," he admitted.
"And I felt for our southern team because they have been working so hard. So to get such a big result on a major day was very satisfying."
Kahma Lass won the Guineas not only because of a perfect ride from Opie Bosson, who looks dialled back in for the summer, but her ability to thrive under increased training pressure.
"She has just kept improving as we upped her workload, which is a great attribute in a young horse. She has developed into a very good filly."
Kahma Lass will now be set for the Karaka Classic Mile on January 23, a race another Te Akau-trained filly in the Cambridge Stud colours — Probabeel — won last season.
Kahma Lass, a daughter of Darci Brahma, cost $290,000 at Karaka which is where Richards and Te Akau boss David Ellis will be this week for the Ready To Run Sale which starts on Wednesday.
The operation may have plenty of equine firepower to keep the tangerine flag flying but the Ready To Run Sale has been good to them in the past, including most notably Te Akau Shark.
With this year's sale certain to be affected by Covid travel restrictions, meaning no overseas buyers in attendance at Karaka, Richards says that could create wonderful buying opportunities.
"I think everybody realises it is going to be a sale with some unique challenges. We are lucky we have plenty of good agents in the grounds to advise overseas buyers and the top 10 per cent of the sale will take care of itself.
"But the restrictions are going to see some bargains and David is keen to be here and support the local industry at a tricky time."
New Zealand Bloodstock have significantly increased the speed of its online buying platform so buyers who can't be at Karaka can view the horses in the ring and bid in real time.
The reality is there are still bound to be horses sold for less than they would be had dozens of overseas buyers been at the sales but domestic buyers do at least have some positive signs of change in the local racing scene as well as improved TAB profits expected to boost returns to the codes in coming years.