Epsom Handicap favourite Te Akau Shark has lost no admirers despite being beaten on his season return in the Group Two Foxbridge Plate at Te Rapa.
The race was won by the Tony Pike-trained Endless Drama who has found a new lease of life in New Zealand after racing in Ireland for Ken Condon and then Sydney under Chris Waller.
Endless Drama came to Saturday’s race with residual fitness from his third in the Stradbroke Handicap in Brisbane in June and got the ideal late run on the heavy track.
Te Akau Shark circled the field on the turn and made his run wide to finish second, three-quarters of a length from the winner.
Te Akau Shark will now head to Sydney for the Tramway Stakes (1400m) on September 7 ahead of the Epsom Handicap on October 5.
Te Akau Shark’s stablemate, six-time Group One winner Melody Belle, finished fourth with the pair starting from the two widest barriers.
“Te Akau Shark was beaten by the draw as he got back a long way but 1400 metres next time should be ideal,” trainer Jamie Richards said.
“He will go to Australia now as we have to back our judgment but we’ll go home and lick our wounds and we’ll be all right.
“She (Melody Belle) just needs 1400 metres now as she is a year older but she will be fine.”
Pike said Endless Drama would head to the Group One Tarzino Trophy (1400m) in two weeks.
“He’s become a real stable pet this horse,” Pike said.
“He came back from Brisbane in great order and trialled superbly here a couple of weeks ago.
“There was a big query on the track but it was a perfect ride from Leith (Innes). The biggest thing is just waiting as he has only got a short, sharp sprint but he waited and waited and got it right today.
“Thanks to Chris Waller for leaving him with me and to (owner) Qatar Bloodstock as they are big investors in the industry.”