IN Racing
Richardson hopes for reversal in Telegraph
“She really did us proud with that performance. She’s as tough as boots."
Richard Edmunds, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | January 12, 2024
Bonny Lass will contest the Gr.1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham on Saturday. Photo: Trish Dunell

Matamata trainer Graham Richardson has previously had much better luck in the Gr.1 Railway (1200m) than the Gr.1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m), but he is hoping to flip that script with Bonny Lass at Trentham on Saturday.

Richardson has won the Railway with Kailey (1997) and Volpe Veloce (2018), and both horses carried on down to Wellington to contest the Telegraph a couple of weeks later. Neither of them had all favours in the Trentham feature and both performed well below their best, finishing sixth and seventh respectively.

This time around, the Railway is the race that left Richardson wondering what might have been. Bonny Lass was badly hampered in the straight by the third-placed Mercurial, but made a remarkable recovery to surge into second behind Waitak.

“She really did us proud with that performance,” said Richardson, who trains in partnership with Rogan Norvall. “She’s as tough as boots.

“She was flattened in the straight, but she managed to get going again and she tried so hard all the way to the line. It really was an outstanding run.”

Waitak is bypassing the Telegraph and being saved for next month’s Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa, meaning Bonny Lass heads the cast of Railway runners backing up into the Telegraph. She is joined by Mercurial (third), Dragon Leap (fourth) and Maria Farina (sixth).

On Friday, the TAB rated Dragon Leap a $3 favourite, with Bonny Lass at $4, newcomer Shamus at $6 and Mercurial at $9.

“I’m really happy with how Bonny Lass has come through the Railway,” Richardson said. “It’s a bit tough having two Group One sprints only 13 days apart, but it is what it is.

“She’s a mare that never needs a whole lot of work. She had a nice light hit-out over 600m on Tuesday morning, just to top her up and get her ready for the trip to Wellington on Friday.”

Saturday will be the five-year-old’s first look at Trentham.

“I don’t have any worries at all about her racing left-handed,” Richardson said. “She’s won plenty of races that way around including a Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (Gr.2, 1200m) and a Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (Gr.3, 1200m). Trentham is a very different track though, so I’m hoping she’ll be comfortable with it, but I don’t see any reason why she wouldn’t.”

The following day at Ellerslie, Richardson and Norvall will saddle the ultra-consistent To Catch A Thief in the Bent Down On One Knee Ben Masters (1500m).

The son of U S Navy Flag has had 10 starts for no fewer than nine third placings, including the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m), Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) and Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m).

In his first appearance since the Guineas, To Catch A Thief filled the same placing in a 1500m race at Pukekohe on New Year’s Day.

“He’s so genuine,” Richardson said. “We think he probably didn’t quite handle the track (Soft7) at Pukekohe last start, which was a little bit disappointing.

“But he’s a lovely horse to do anything with and has been working well since that race. We’re potentially working towards a shot at the Derby (Gr.1, 2400m) with him later in the season, and this is a nice step in that direction.”

Bonny Lass Gr.1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph To Catch A Thief graham richardson and rogan norvall