by Te Akau Racing
In training for the Hawkins’ family of Wentwood Grange, Mai Tai (4 m Atlante – Tropical Punch, by Faltaat) justified her $1.90 tote support with an impressive victory in the Barfoot & Thompson 1400 on Easter Saturday at Ellerslie.
An unlucky fifth on Derby Day last month at Ellerslie, the winner of four from nine showed her ability to quicken on Saturday as she launched from fifth with an irresistible finish, sprinting clear to win by three and a half lengths.
“She was really stiff last time at Ellerslie, and we thought stepping up to 1400 metres would be ideal,” said trainer Jamie Richards.
“She was aided by a nice ride from Troy (Harris) and she’s putting together a good record. She’s a mare with a future and I think she’s good enough to get black type, which is what it’s all about for the owners.
“It’s lovely to have another good mare in the stable for the Hawkins, who have been good supporters, through Our Abbadean and a couple of others with ability. We really enjoy training for them and seeing them get success."
Richards suggested Mai Tai could now be aimed toward either the Gr.2Easter Handicap (1600m) on Saturday 24 April at Ellerslie, or a day later in the Listed Anzac Mile (1550m) at Awapuni.
“She’s always been a very special filly because she was a foster foal,” said Dean Hawkins. “We raced her mum and she was Group Three placed from limited starts and (father) Des did the mating, and loved it.
“She was never the most beautiful foal, and they all have a special place in your heart, but when you know they start off life as a foster foal it adds that little bit extra. It’s great to see her going so well and Jamie (Richards) has done a magnificent job placing her.
“Although this race wasn’t the target, he picked it out and it’s always great to win at Ellerslie. Jamie had earmarked the Lightning Handicap on the same day at Awapuni, but she didn’t fair that well in the handicaps. He settled on this race instead and it made sense to us.
“As always, Te Akau does a great job with the horses and they’ve got a phenomenal team.”
Her dam, Tropical Punch (Faltaat), was Group Three and Listed placed to 1600 metres, and Mai Tai carries a Mr. Prospector cross – used to good effect in breeding strategies by Wentwood Grange – as the sire of Faltaat and through the dam-lines of Atlante.
Mai Tai races in the trademark Wentwood Grange colours of black, bronze Prince of Wales feathers, and matching quartered cap.