Akuta Wins Kindie

Akuta Wins Kindie

Bruce Stewart

1st April 2021

Blair Orange, the winning driver in today’s Macca Lodge Kindergarten Stakes at the Wyndham Harness Racing meeting, was suitably impressed after driving the Hayden Cullen trained Akuta to beat stablemate Bollinger.

“He’s got a few gears there and feels like he’s going to be a nice staying type later on,” he said after the Bettor’s Delight gelding took out the Group Three feature.

After trailing on the pegs for the first part of the race Orange took Akuta to the top inside the last 900 metres. Bollinger joined Akuta at the 800 metres and the pace sharpened.

Akuta was there to be run down, but he stuck his ears back and fought to hang on to the top spot.

“He had that will to win which you need in a two year old. He was on a loose rein all the way and when I asked him to quicken there was more there. He’ll be right up there with the better ones.”

Akuta winning the 2021 Kindergarten Stakes

Akuta is out of the Christian Cullen mare Adore To Our Dreams and was purchased by the All Stars Stable for $170,000 at the 2020 New Zealand National Standardbred Yearling Sale in Christchurch.

“He’s just got a few wee chinks. He throws his head round a bit and puts in the odd little step but that’ll be ironed out. He’s only had the two trials and that was his first start so he can only get better.”

The Bettor’s Delight gelding is co-owned by Cullen Breeding Limited and former trainer Mark Purdon.

Purdon has an outstanding record in this race but this was the first time he’s owned the winner of the time honoured feature.

As a trainer he’s won the race eleven times – four in his own right; So Cool (2002), Lennon (2003), Ohoka Arizona (2007) and Messini (2013). His other successes were  with Grant Payne and Sir Clive (2008), with Natalie Rasmussen and Itz Bettor To Win (2014), and with Waikiki Beach (2015), Pacing Major (2016), War Dan Delight (2018), Flying Even Better (2019) and First Class (2020).

With the win today Blair Orange is the most successful driver in the race’s history. He’s won the two year old feature five times. Until today’s win he shared the honours with Henry Skinner.

Bettor’s Delight also became the most successful sire in the race’s sixty year history, siring five winners. Hal Tryax, Majestic Chance and Christian Cullen have produced four winners each.

There was plenty of merit in the runner up Bollinger’s performance. He was only a half a length away in second, after facing the breeze for most of the trip. You’re So Fine was a half a length away in third. Duke of Cornwell trained by Lauren Pearson had an eye catching run, but got into his work late.

The winning time of 1-59.5 was the slowest since the race was first run over 1609 metres in 2003.

Later in the programme Samhara trained by Hayden Cullen showed he’ll add interest to this year’s Southern Supremacy Stakes.

The Bettor’s Delight three year old on his first trip to Southland won the Cardrona Distillery Three Year Old Stakes, beating stablemate Stag Party by a length and a half.

In the hands of Tim Williams he trailed Stag Party for the majority of the 1609 metres and let down nicely in the straight to win in a time of 1-56.1.

Samhara will need to start once more in the province and earn enough stakes money to race in the Supremacy where he’ll face the likes of Ragazzo Mach which is likely to stay on for the feature.