The winning run of trainer Jamie Richards and the Te Akau Racing team continued at Tauranga on Thursday when Byzantine scored over 1400m in rating 72 company.
Richards currently sits atop the National Trainer’s Premiership ladder with 61 wins, nine clear of Cambridge conditioner Stephen Marsh and has been in a purple patch of form of late that saw him produce Prise De Fer to win the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
Savabeel four-year-old Byzantine has proven to be a bit of a head-scratcher for Richards since winning stylishly in just his second start as a two-year-old, mixing his efforts at times but always looking to have the ability to progress through the grades.
A winning run over 1200m in a similar grade at Hastings last start showed he was back to his best and he franked that victory with another professional display in the hands of Opie Bosson.
Sent forward to sit outside the pace by Bosson, Byzantine found a good kick when challenged in the run home before holding out a late charge from Salt Bay to score by a neck and register his fourth career victory from just 11 starts.
“He got a lovely run in the race even though it was only a small field,” stable representative Libby Richards said.
“He won well at Hawke’s Bay last time and we were very happy with him.
“The weight (60kgs) was a question mark but he ran to the line well.
“He’s putting together a good record although he has been a little difficult at home so it’s good to see him get a win for the team.”
A full brother to Byzantine will be offered through the Little Avondale Stud draft during Book 1 at the National Yearling Sale at Karaka later this month.
Richard’s stable star Probabeel will create plenty of attention at Awapuni on Saturday when she has her first start in New Zealand as a three-year-old in an age-group 1400m event.
The 2019 Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) winner is fresh from a three-start Australian spring campaign where she finished second to Funstar in the Gr.1 Flight Stakes (1600m) at Randwick back in October.