Matamata trainer Graham Richardson recorded an elite-level scalp with his homebred Defibrillate in the Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2050m) on Boxing Day, and he is hoping he can get another at Te Rapa this week.
The eight-year-old gelding will contest the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) in a fresh state, having not raced since his Boxing Day heroics, and Richardson is excited about his prospects in New Zealand’s richest weight-for-age race.
“I am really excited, I can’t wait,” said Richardson, who trains the gelding in partnership with Rogan Norvall.
“He is a very genuine horse. He is a lovely and kind horse, but he gets a bit hyped up, but not too much. It’s probably because I keep him a bit fresh too.
“He had a week out in the paddock (following the Zabeel Classic) and did some pre-training out at JK Farms. He loves it.”
Saturday’s feature has attracted a strong line-up, including Group One winners Sharp ‘N’ Smart, Coventina Bay, He’s A Doozy and Asterix, and Richardson is wary of his rivals.
“It is a bloody strong field on Saturday. He is third favorite and I would agree with that,” he said.
“He is well and his work at Tauranga on Sunday was nice. He is forward enough and is looking really well.”
Richardson doesn’t have it any easier in the meeting’s other feature, the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m).
His Group One performer Bonny Lass will take on one of the hottest sprinting fields assembled in New Zealand and Richardson said he is just happy to be there.
He hasn’t had an easy road to the sprinting feature with his mare, who had to bypass both the Gr.1 Railway (1200m) and Gr.1 Telegraph (1200m) with a stone bruise.
She resumed with a fourth placing in the Gr.3 Concorde Handicap (1200m), with her 60kg impost proving too much.
“It is a very strong field. It is nice to have a horse good enough to run in it,” Richardson said.
“She missed out on the Railway with the stone bruise, and also the Telegraph, so we had to run her in the Concorde. It is a lovely race but it didn’t suit her with 60 kilos. She went enormous in that.
“I think she will be alright over 1400m, but it is very strong.”
Richardson will also head to Te Rapa with North Of Havana who will contest the Dr John Southworth Memorial Vase (1200m).
“North Of Havana is a real improver,” he said. “She has got an awkward draw (11) but as long as the track is okay, she will go around.”
Richardson is fresh off spending a week up at Karaka at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale and he was pleased with the young stock he was able to acquire.
“I did a lot of homework and bought seven nice horses,” he said. “I am really pleased with the outcome. There are a few there that are still being syndicated, but I am very happy.”