Trainer Graham Richardson was quietly savouring the sweet taste of success as he went about his business the day after securing Group One glory at Pukekohe with his special mate Defibrillate.
Richardson and co-trainer Rogan Norvall made it back-to-back victories in the Gr.1 Cambridge Stud Zabeel Stakes (2000m) after taking the race in 2021 with the recently retired Tiptronic.
That win was also satisfying for Richardson however he didn’t hesitate in labelling the win of Defibrillate in this year’s edition of the weight-for-age classic a notch above even that victory.
“It was quite emotional and one of my bigger thrills to see him charge away and win the race the way he did,” Richardson said.
“To have had a hand in breeding and owning him and to be training him as well just adds something magical to it all.
“It is only really just sinking in now, as we came home last night and had a celebration here at my place which was fantastic but now it’s nearly 24 hours later and the dust has settled a little and it gives you a chance to reflect on just how it all unfolded.”
Richardson knew it could be a very nervous wait during the day with the race scheduled as the penultimate event on the card so kept himself busy with the other members of the team that he and Norvall had entered.
“The race was the culmination of a lot of planning and I knew it could be a pretty long day, so I spent a lot more time than I normally would down at the raceday stables with our team and just trying to keep myself busy,” he said.
“What was also pretty cool was that I had my two brothers, Peter and Noel, and their families with me on course and we spent some quality time during the day.
“When we won, they came into the winner’s drinks afterwards, so that’s something I’ll never forget.”
As it turned out the victory was achieved in a relatively easy fashion, with the son of Shocking maintaining a powerful gallop for rider Warren Kennedy to comfortably hold his rivals at bay as he registered his 12th career victory.
“He really is a very good horse and he showed that,” Richardson said.
“He is a cool customer, who loves his routine and is a pleasure to have around the stable.
“Warren did a great job on him and put him in all the right places during the race, so it was full credit for a very good ride.
“I also have Rogan to thank as he does a fantastic job. I had said to him he should come up for the day, but in typical fashion he was thinking about our team and what needed to be done to have the horses ready for the rest of this week, so he stayed home.”
With Defibrillate heading for a week in the paddock before getting ready to tackle the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) at Te Rapa in February, the Richardson and Norvall partnership will be looking to secure more stakes success with their contenders entered on New Year’s day at Te Rapa.
“We’ve got a number of runners over the rest of this week and hopefully we pick up another big one at Te Rapa on Sunday,” Richardson said.
“Bonny Lass has a big task ahead of her in the Railway (Gr.1, 1200m) as she up against Levante and a quality field of sprinters, but she is very well and deserves her place in the field.
“She trialled beautifully at Matamata last Friday and she comes into the race in tip top condition.
“Paisley Park will go around in the Rich Hill Mile (Gr.2, 1600m) and he is a bit of a Te Rapa specialist who is in good form, while To Catch A Thief will start in the Eclipse Stakes (Gr.2, 1200m).
“He is trying to find a place in the Karaka Million and he has gone two very nice races to get his career underway.”