Pure power and strength from brilliant Akuta
By Jonny Turner
Akuta treated harness racing fans to the ultimate display of power and brute strength when brilliantly winning the Group One New Zealand Derby on Grand Prix Day at Addington.
Settling many lengths off a hot tempo mattered little to the brilliant three-year-old who put away a brave Republican Party in an epic running of the three-year-old colts and geldings classic.
Akuta’s backers faced the sight of the New Zealand Cup fourth placegetter settling many lengths off a hot early pace set up by an early lead battle between Beach Ball and Republican Party.
While it might not have been what favourite punters were hoping to see, Mark Purdon wasn’t concerned that he had the entire field in front of him.
But there also wasn’t much he could do about it.
“The speed was on so we were flat keeping up, but once Blair found the front they came back to us,” Purdon said.
“Once Johnny Dunn came out and the three wide line got going we were able to get around them.”
After tracking the three-wide line, Akuta found the parked position and from there he delivered a crushing blow.
“It was a real staying event and he is just in super form.”
Akuta’s win was the middle leg of an incredible Group One treble for owner Ian Dobson who shares in the ownership of brilliant winners Muscle Mountain and Don’t Stop Dreaming.
Akuta will now head to the spelling paddock for a short break with North Island feature races like the Taylor Mile, the NZ Messenger Championship and The Race in mind.
And he will do so having already proven himself against New Zealand’s best open class pacers.
“I will give him a bit of a break now, he has had a big campaign and he deserves it,” Purdon said.
“He won’t be out for too long, we will want to have him ready for the feature races in Auckland coming up.”
Akuta went agonisingly close to clinching a national record on a record-smashing day, with his 3.05.6 time just 0.2sec outside the all-comers record for 2600m.
Republican Party was six and a half lengths behind Akuta after setting up much of that sizzling pace.
Sand Wave ran a very brave third behind the first two after he was posted three wide from the 800m after Akuta found the parked position.